More on Reagan's Passing

From Times New Roman, a Canadian-based blog I found at Skippy's:

The United States will no doubt be thrown into mourning for the next few days. A&E will air his biography, and there will be all manner of special reports. Any semblance of a news cycle dedicated to the continuing debacle of the Bush Doctrine in practice is now blown to bits. You must give Reagan credit, his sense of timing, so finely honed by years in Hollywood, is superb to the last.

Though he might be gone, his legacy and his political offspring are clearly alive and well—thriving in fact. Perle (his Asst. Sec. Defense), Wolfowitz (Director of Policy Planning for the State Dept and then as Asst Sec State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs), Cheney (Sec Defense for Bush Sr.), and Rumsfeld (no small hand in Reagan’s foreign policy), not to mention his VP’s boy, are chafing in his over-sized saddle, reaping the whirlwind of the kind of greed-blinkered thinking with a smile that Reagan personified. This group of uber-Reagan fans has done more damage to the United States and the West by association than Reagan would have ever tolerated during his administrations, but they still do it in his name—and presumably will continue to do so in his memory(largely because Bush junior’s name means jack shit).
Well said.

How Low Can JLo Go?

Jennifer Lopez (J Lo or, to me, Way Lo) got married again. Of course, that's about as newsworthy as:

    * Bush proposing a(nother) tax cut for the rich
    * Rush Limbaugh popping a pain killer
    * The majority of Americans changing their underwear daily
Now if she could only act or sing or do anything remotely useful.

Oh wait. You ask, "Whom did she marry?"

Does it matter? She'll be divorced again within the year and then she'll be engaged to someone else. But she still won't be able to act, sing, or amount to a plugged nickel. (yawn)

The Media Finally Notices the Enron Tapes

From The Times today:

One energy trader gloats about cheating "poor grandmothers." Another suggests shutting down a power plant in order to drive up electricity prices. A third, hearing of a fire under a transmission line that caused a power failure, shouts "burn baby, burn." Another says that he would like to see Kenneth Lay — then Enron's chief executive — wind up as energy secretary in the new Bush administration.

An exhaustive study released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March 2003 confirmed what everyone had long suspected — that Enron and other major energy companies manipulated California's energy markets in 2000 and 2001 in ways that cost the state billions. Now comes the most graphic evidence yet of the cynicism and ruthlessness with which Enron's floor traders, presumably with the endorsement of their superiors, rigged the market.

The evidence is in taped conversations among Enron traders, obtained from the Justice Department by a public utility district near Seattle that wants to recover what it says are $2 billion in unjust profits. The tapes, which CBS broadcast last week, are remarkable not only for their cynicism but also their raw profanity — the average energy trader appears to have a vocabulary consisting of a half-dozen obscenities as well as "cool," "wow" and "awesome" — as in wouldn't it be "awesome" if Mr. Lay got the energy post. But the traders are not politically stupid. One is heard predicting that President-elect George Bush would oppose caps on wholesale electricity prices — which indeed Mr. Bush did, until the crisis got completely out of hand.

The tapes are the equivalent of the cynical e-mail messages in which Henry Blodget and other Wall Street analysts acknowledged that the stocks they were peddling were mostly dogs. Those messages ruined careers and led to big fines. Whether the Enron tapes will have the same effect remains to be seen. In a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, California is trying to recover $8.9 billion in refunds from Enron and others. The state will not get nearly that — most of the companies are now bankrupt — but the tapes can't hurt their efforts.
Growl, hiss.

What if there were no [fill in the blank]?

Josh Marshall notes a phenomenon that's been driving me crazy (granted, that's a relatively short commute for me):

Here at TPM we've repeatedly noted the tendency for Republicans (and also non-Republicans) to argue that non-white voters somehow aren't quite real voters. The point is often framed as noting how up-the-creek Democrats would be without black voters.

Thus we have a comment like Bill Schneider posed to Judy Woodruff a couple years ago on CNN ...

    Judy, how dependent are Democrats on the African-American vote?

    Without black voters, the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections would have been virtually tied, just like the 2000 election. Oh no, more Florida recounts!

    What would have happened if no blacks had voted in 2000? Six states would have shifted from Al Gore to George W. Bush: Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Oregon. Bush would have won by 187 electoral votes, instead of five. A Florida recount? Not necessary.
Gee, Bill, there are black voters. You keep saying this same assinine damned thing again and again.

What if there were no Bill Schneiders and Judy Woodruffs? Well, gosh, the mean IQ on CNN would jump at least 3 points, Daryn Kagan and Kyra Philips notwithstanding.

From Jesus' General:

Republican Jesus:

Blessed are the big campaign donors for they shall receive no-bid contracts.
If you have a good sense of humor, you really have to visit this blog. [Ed. note: A great sense of humor is particularly vital when all the wingnut caricatures of themselves are dominating the airwaves tonight. Waving to Peggy Noonan, Larry Eagleburger, and Bill Bennett.]

From the Mighty Skippy on Reagan

repubbbs are quick to let reagan take credit for the collapse of the soviet union, as if he had anything to do with the corruption that ate away at its over-entended infrastructure. but he did his best bob villa impression with the memorable "mr. gorbachev, tear down that wall."

it was revealed that reagan suffered from alzheimer's disease in early 1987 when he discovered he could not remember any involvement in the iran-contra scandal.

reagan's late spring demise will deprive awol of any big "taking on the mantle" hoopla next fall, thus forcing him to run on his record, something no repubbb wants.
Skippy about sums up my reaction, but with better humor and far less bile.

Reagan's Liberal Legacy

If you want a view of Ronald Reagan that you certainly won't get from the gushing by ultra right wingers on TV this weekend, or the more jaded view by me, I'll join Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog in recommending you read Joshua Green's 2003 article on Reagan's liberal legacy.

Even I will admit that there are FAR less parallels between Reagan and Bush than BushCo would have you believe.

All Coverage of D-Day Has Stopped Dead

As all these right wingers are on TV lamenting the passing of Ronald Reagan, all the coverage of the 60th anniversary of D-Day has stopped in its tracks.

These men gave their lives for their country, but apparently, their lives and contribution matter far less than the passing of a 93-year-old man who made less of a sacrifice.

Ronald Reagan Dies

With the passing of the 40th president, I would like to say I'm sorry but he lived a long life, dying at 93. I'm afraid I won't join the chorus of voices saying that he was a great man and will be dearly missed.

His son, Michael, on CNN said, His son, "I pray that as America reflects on the passing of my dad, they will remember a man of integrity, conviction and good humor that changed America and the world for the better."

That is not the Ronald Reagan I remember, however. My respect for him ends historically after his behavior during the Communist-McCarthy ridiculous of the 50s (before I was born, but I've read a great deal about it).

As a president, he was a puppet who delivered carefully scripted Clint Eastwood type of one-liners. He increased the divide between the haves and the have-nots. He allowed very destructive people to run the country while he was president in name only. He took no responsibility for anything, and was allowed repeatedly to get by with the phrase, "I don't remember."

He may have been legally incompetent during some if not all of his second term, and yet he was willing to go on with the charade. Many stories go that he could not keep awake during various meetings.

In fact, the few good things I can say about him besides his conduct during the McCarthy hearings is that he raised an intelligent son in Ron Jr. and that his illness caused Nancy to speak out in favor of stem cell research. Neither of them, sadly, are directly attributable to him.

Ironically, Bill Bennett (check the Dominatrix story elsewhere in this and other blogs) is the man CNN has chosen to headline its line up of Reagan's greatness tonight. Bill's plugged his new radio show several times.

Yet I'm sorry he suffered from the Alzheimer's. But I'm sorrier still that AIDS was allowed to get such a foothold in this country because Mr. Reagan refused to acknowledge it. Perhaps the Alzheimer's was in a way a blessing that he could not remember some of his greatest failures to his country as president.

And I'm sorry that the media can only cry about the passing of this "great man" rather than viewing him a bit more honestly, just as I'll be sorry that Mr. Bush will use Reagan's passing again and again as political fuel to push forward horrible things in this country that actually make Reagan's seem more benign in retrospect.


An estimated 500,000 turned out to protest Mr. Bush and the Iraqi war. For the most part, these people demonstrated both peacefully and civilly.

War Crimes and American Soldiers

From the Reuters news service:

The United Nations (news - web sites)' top human rights official said on Friday abuses by U.S. soldiers of Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison could amount to war crimes.

Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan said U.S.-led occupation forces had committed "serious violations" of international humanitarian law in Iraq (news - web sites) and had ill-treated ordinary Iraqis.
I don't have a problem with valid charges for war crimes. Certainly, some of what we saw on images - and one can only imagine what was not documented in photos and video - seems to constitute such.

However, what we owe to the Iraqis, to our soldiers, and to our own selves is knowing how far up the chain of command the spirit with which we treated Iraqis goes. There seems to be every indication that Rumsfeld (and perhaps higher up and lower down) was wiling to allow this to happen to get the "desired" results.

Of course, we can't fool ourselves into the notion that war is neat. It's not. But hoods and leashes and elecrical torture? As Janice Karpinski had said, our troops were not issued such materials as standard equipment nor did she know of any place around Abu Ghraib (or other sites) where these could be purchased. So someone - someones - brought them to our troops and perhaps instructed them how to use them. The ordering of such behavior is every bit as horrific - if not more so - than the actual administration.

Bush Admits He's the Greatest Challenge of Our Time

Here's the article.

Oh. Oops.

I misread that. Bush said terrorism was the greatest challenge of our time. But I think you can understand why I would make that mistake, I'm sure. In fact, I'm almost sure that is what Mr. Bush would have meant were he a more honest and self-assessing individual.


The Bigger the Fuckup, The Larger the Reward and Praise from BushCo


In a stunning move last week, the Bush administration announced it was awarding a new, multimillion-dollar contract to a private company currently being investigated for abuse at the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

CACI International initially was paid $66 million for its work in Iraq, which included supplying the military with interrogators. (No one seemed especially concerned that the company had no actual experience in professional interrogations.) In return for this contract, the U.S. government received interrogators like Steven Stefanowicz, the CACI employee considered by Major General Antonio Taguba to be "directly or indirectly responsible" for encouraging the horrific abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib. Today, the company is ensnared in five separate probes into misconduct, including an investigation by the General Services Administration, which would ban the company from receiving future government contracts.

Instead of punishing CACI, however, the White House turned a blind eye last week and rewarded the computer company with a brand-new $88 million contract to supply computer support for the Navy.
You almost get the feeling that if someone in the Bush Administration "accidentally" leveled Germany or New York City, they would receive the most praise of all. If Rumsfeld is superb, can you imagine what someone would have to do to get condemned by this crew (besides whisper a bad word about Mr. Bush)?

Rumsfeld Urges Asia to Join War on Terror

I'm sure they'll be inspired to go along with him based on our glorious successes.

Look at all we've accomplished. Osama's in prison for life. There aren't any more terrorists. Iraq is a free and independent country devoid of occupation or torture. We're admired and loved throughout the world.


In actuality, Bush is about to announce that all the blue states have joined the Axis of Evil while he's wondering how he can invade Michael Moore.

BTW, did anyone catch the photo of Bush this morning that (I believe) appeared relatively early on CNN? It was up for a fairly short period of time, and taken from the right and slightly behind the Pope who's sitting to the right (of course, since the president thinks he's God) of Bush, who is giving the Pope this sideways look that was patently disturbing. Something like, "And to think I gotta kiss your ass, y'old fart."

Paul Wolfowitz: Is He On Our Side?

Max sums up the appearance of Gen. Anthony Zinni and his odd couple co-author Tom Clancy better than I can:

Caught a bit of Tom Clancy and General Anthony Zinni on (figuratively speaking) Deborah Norville last nite. Zinni was persuasive, but why is Clancy being asked to analyze intelligence policy? Because he writes spy novels? He should go back to driving his tank around his estate.

When asked to render their opinions of some Administration figures, Clancy responded to the name of Paul Wolfowitz with "Is he on our side?" Ouch. Oy.
However, I have to admit that this is the first time I've ever had even grudging respect for Clancy. He's almost the last person I would have expected to question this system of war and administration.

I used to speak with him occasionally when he hung around AOL private staff chat areas (long story that I might divulge sometime but yes, I actually worked for AOL... hanging head in shame). He used to call me a dove while I used to joke to others that Tom was more Scud than stud.

Centrist to Please

I was disturbed yesterday when I heard John Kerry say that we need at least 40,000 more troops on duty. While I very much approve of his plans to return the national guard and reservists back home, where they were really meant to serve, I'm concerned about the great need for the Democrats to rush in and fill the centrist void left by the GOP that's been moving ever more toward the extreme right.

In fact, the farther right the other side goes, the more right of center the Democrats feel obligated to move.


I respect that many Americans would not necessarily embrace the same degree of left of center politics I might prefer. I appreciate the need for people to come together so that Mr. Bush can be removed from office. At this point, I think that's the most important thing we can try to achieve.

However, why do we need a second Republican Party? That seems to be what the party of John Kerry is doing. Do we really need to pander to everyone not quite as extremist in their right-most views as those who embrace Bush?

I supported Howard Dean from nearly the beginning. But not because he was a "crazy liberal." As a resident of the state where he was governor, I knew that while Dean was definitely not a Republican in the traditional sense, he was very much a pragmatist and a centrist. Truthfully, he didn't lean as much to the left as I would have preferred. But, as I said, I thought it was more important to bridge some of the gap and include more Americans within the support base than it was to try to have a system that was more to my liking.

John Kerry, however, seems too eager to play it careful, to dance to the tunes of the right than to be faithful to some of the basic precepts of what it at least once meant to be a Democrat.

I want to win, too, but there are some costs that are unacceptable. It's bad enough that this country largely operates on a system where there are usually just two candidates to choose from (while we would never accept just two choices for a car selection, a housing choice, a job, or even a recurring dinner menu) without us merging into one party: all Republicans, but varying by degree of extreme.

Can't we represent something more than just what is acceptable to get elected? Maybe if we did, this race wouldn't be defined simply as Bush vs. Anybody But Bush. I don't want to vote for "Anybody But Bush". I want to believe in a candidate. Yet, as of right now, John Kerry will get my vote only because I could never vote for George Bush and what he represents.

OK, OK. It's Friday night. Let me kick the soapbox back under the desk.

Giuliani to Replace Tenet as CIA Chief?

Please, no.

Yes, I know he did an honorable thing on 9/11. But so much of Mr. Giuliani's life and career was anything but honorable. Think of how he let down the 9/11 families in his testimony, if nothing else.

Bush: "Chalabi Who?"

This issue with Bush practically denying he's ever heard of Ahmed Chalabi now is as ridiculous as his pretending he didn't know who Ken Lay of Enron was a few years ago (Bush and Lay were good friends who used to vacation together; Lay had sort of his own office at the White House, it's said, for a time before Enron blew up).

Keith Olbermann right now is pointing out that during Tim Russert's February interview with Bush, the president said he had sat down for extensive discussions with Chalabi. On Tuesday, however, Bush specifically said he had never met with him or had extensive discussions with Chalabi.

How can anyone think this president is candid and honest? Yet with the imminent release of Clinton's book, everyone is bringing up the lie about not having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.

Compare the level of lies. Bush lies about everything and is considered honest. Clinton lied about an intern.

Forget Adm. Poyndexter; Feds Are Data Mining Anyway

From ZDNet:

Congress managed to pull the plug last year on the Pentagon's data-mining plan known as Total Information Awareness, but it turns out that the effects were only fleeting.

A new government report reveals that federal agencies have undertaken 199 data-mining efforts, 131 of which are already operational. A surprising number resemble clones of the controversial Total Information Awareness project, which was intended to peruse exabytes of data on Americans assembled from every source possible as a means to snare terrorists.

John Dean: Implications of Bush Hiring an Attorney

John Dean offers some strong, intelligent words about the serious implications of President Bush engaging a lawyer regarding the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

FBI Informant on Hijackers Is Poisoned

Atrios brings us this link to an article about a Shreveport dentist who supposedly reported 3 of the 9/11 hijackers to the FBI nearly a year before that terrible Tuesday. The dentist, who has written a book about his experience with the hijackers and trying to alert the FBI, has suddenly fallen ill, is on life support, and poisoning is suspected.

Pandagons Need Money, Too

For those who regularly read Pandagon, drop by and perhaps offer Jesse and Ezra a little bit to help with necessary moving expenses and all. They're both bright, talented young men who contribute a great deal to Blogtopia.

Alas, we won't be doing fundraising here. I happen to enjoy poverty and write the blog a) for my own sanity b) so I can get hassled more by government agencies (I'm hoping the IRS is running out of years in which to audit me)... oh... and c) out of my deep, deep, deep respect for Mr. Bush as a leader (of the swirling around the toilet bowl league).

Bill Bennett, the Dominatrix, and Jessica Cutler

Uh... only the first two are directly related to one another, but since half of Blogtopia (wasn't that a Skippy created phrase?) is now linking to it, I feel obligated to steer you to The Calico Cat, which offers extensive discussion of the above three topics.

Other blogs discussing it include the aforementioned Skippy (I think), In Search of Utopia, and Wonkette. Likely, there are more not listed here.

Oh hell, it's not obligation that makes me link to a story involving Bill Bennett and a dominatrix (I don't find Jessica Cutler nearly as interesting), but sheer delight in anything that takes Mr. Virtues down a vice peg or two.

Man, do I hope the dominatrix charges Mr. Bennett a whole, whole lot (and takes pictures).

Four Soldiers Killed

MSNBC is reporting:

Baghdad blast kills four U.S. soldiers - The U.S. military says four soldiers were killed and five wounded in an explosion Friday in east Baghdad.

The Draft: Now and Later

Note this. The draft looks like it may commence in June 2005, just in time for us to invade Syria, Cuba, Northern Vermont, or Disneyland.

However, as John Kerry has noted, we already have a back-door draft in place in the form of the increasing "stop-loss" measures that are forcing retiring military folks to stay on, bringing discharged military back to active duty involuntarily, and keeping reservists and guardsmen in place for far longer than was ever intended.

In fact, pretending this is anything other than the draft right now is ludicrous. But Bush doesn't want him name attached to a plan that grabs your teenagers until after the 2004 election cycle. Since Mr. Bush steadfastly avoided the draft, it seems rather improper for him to force your kids to go.

Remember when we were told Iraq was a cake-walk? That we would be in and out of Afghanistan quickly? That we were just there to remove a few bad guys and to liberate the people from harm?

Loosening of Miranda Protections

Buzzflash points us to this article first published out of the LA Times about the Supremes (the usual suspects: Rehnquist, the Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy team of Scalia and Thomas, Sandra Day O'Connor and Kennedy) deciding that teens do not need to receive Miranda protection early on in police custody/questioning.

Bush in Italy

Will we see any of the protests that Italian officials have been sure will greet President Bush's 3-day visit to Rome, when the greatest perpetrator of war in most of our lifetimes will give the Pope a freedom medal?

So far, we certainly have not. More importantly, Mr. Bush will not. He always travels far away from any display of displeasure over his policies or actions. He lives in a bubble where he does not have to see the results of what he does or the reactions to it by any but those who praise him and practically worship at his feet. Like his mother, he feels "why should my beautiful mind deal with all that nastiness?"

Can we really afford another four years of someone so gravely out of touch with not only his citizens but the rest of the world? I say no, but November will decide.

Shameless Keith Olbermann Plug

Of all the TV news personalities on today, there is just one I really enjoy. He's also the only one who doesn't seem consumed by his own ego, actually seems to think about what he's discussing, and covers a certain roundness of both sides missing all too much on TV right now.

Obviously, I'm talking about Keith Olbermann, whom I discovered just before he departed MSNBC the last time (after the Lewinsky issue). Frankly, he's the only reason to ever go near MSNBC which has become trite, stupid, and very much like Faux News (but without the conviction).

You could amass the collective gene pools of Paula Zahn, Lou Dobbs, Deborah Norville (who can't be bothered to learn how to pronounce the names of many of her guests), Bill Hemmer/Sole-duh O'Brien, Chris Matthews, Tim Russert, et al and still not come close to Keith's style, wit, wisdom, or skill.


Why I Read Wonkette a Few Times a Week

Here's a couple of reasons:

On his way into Marine One, Bush thought of something he forgot to mention at the press conference with the Australian PM: CIA director George Tenet has resigned for "personal reasons."

No biggie. Not like it has to do with anything. Nope. Bush then turned back around and shouted over his shoulder, "Oh, and I totally knew about 9/11! Later."
Karl Rove's evil genius has been called into question lately, but with this Tenet thing, we think he's getting his game back on. The tossed-off announcement? Brilliant. Timing the announcement so that the all the varsity league White House correspondents are already in Rome? A risky move, but we think it'll pay off: They could come racing back, but unless Tenet has a semen-stained dress lying around somewhere, we doubt it.

Of course, you don't always need to rig things so that you're playing the B team. Sometimes the B team is already playing. A Wonkette correspondent writes with this addition to the pantheon of Great Moments in Cable News Coverage:

    [The MSNBC] bubble-headed daytime anchor mentioned the news [about Tenet] and turned to the analyst and said, "This comes out of the blue." Well, sure, maybe if you haven't been reading the papers for the last 3 years. . .
Nothing like a good snark after a long, hard day.

Take Your Next Vacation with Linda Tripp

[Ed. note: EWWWWWWW]

From the Washington Post:

If you haven't made vacation plans yet, how could you pass up the opportunity to take a guided tour of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic in September with none other than Linda Tripp and her fiance, German native (and childhood sweetheart) Dieter Rausch? "It truly is a trip of a lifetime," Rausch, who owns a Christmas shop in Middleburg, says in a prospectus outlining the 17-day trip. Tripp told us yesterday: "I don't know how many people have signed up, but I know he doesn't want to take more than 35." The $7,400-per-person excursion is not open to press coverage, she said. "Oh, can you imagine? Gee, I need more ugly pictures of me."
Personally, I do not need more ugly pictures of her.

North Korea Bans All Cell Phones

See? Finally there's something positive to say about Kim Jong-Il.

Now if only most of his people weren't starving to death. (sound of teeth grinding)

Orgy Party

I just got spam inviting me to an orgy party.

Now, granted, I've been thinking I should get out more often (it's such a long drive to go anywhere that I'm often stuck in the office just because I hate long road trips) but I think an orgy party probably isn't quite what I had in mind.

After all, what does one wear to an orgy party? What if all the men there have visible nasal hair? If everybody's naked, that's a problem because I've rarely ever met anyone who looks better out of clothes than in them. Does an orgy party have more of a plot than a porn movie, because those are really awful? Also, I'm not really interested in having sex with a stranger, let alone a room full of them. Do they get fussy if you just watch? And there's another issue because I really don't have any interest in watching people have sex. When I'm lucky, I'm almost interested when I'm having sex.

Perhaps I should just start out going out to the farmer's market this weekend and work up to going to a bookstore reading. Sounds more my speed. ;>

Get a Peek at Fahrenheit 911

The mighty Skippy gives us the link to the trailer for Michael Moore's much-discussed and much anticipated new film.

Mary Beth Williams for Maine State Rep

Hey Mainites (Mainites? Mainers? Down Easters - and Down East for people at the north tip of the country just makes no sense to me) and those who just want to see a good person get into office.

Another blogger, Mary Beth Williams, is running for state representative in Maine (I'm just one VT county and two NH counties away, making us almost neighbors). Here's her campaign site. Here's her blog. See what she's about and consider giving her some help.

And here's her pic. I like that face.

Classic Cartoon Brilliance

If you don't happen to get the print version of The Washington Post (God knows I don't), check out the cartoon today at Atrios. It's perrrrfect.

GOP Senator Says No Blank Check for Bush

From CNN:

A powerful senator from President Bush's own party rejected his administration's request for broad leeway on a $25 billion reserve fund it wants for Iraq and said Wednesday he intends to limit how the money can be used.

"We expect this to be used only for Afghanistan and Iraq," declared Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approves government spending and oversees the federal budget.
I actually applaud this move, while noting that Mr. Stevens is terribly happy to get a blank check for Alaska and his own interests.

No More Ladies Night Discounts in Jersey

I get NY channels through my satellite TV feed and I've been marvelling at how some are very upset that a New Jersey court has decided its gender bias that women pay less to drink at some bars some nights as part of ladies' night. You can sort of imagine why they do that.

Myself, I've always hated the "ladies night" concept. Granted, I'm not much of a bar fan anyway unless I'm with a good group of friends (alcohol is not a favorite vice). But the whole idea always rankled me, just as the fact that I usually paid more than males for my dry cleaning and my simple haircuts.

So forgive me if I don't shed a tear for women who will now have to pay full price to drink in Jersey. A change in the rules just makes sense.

On a Personal Note

A few of you were kind enough to drop me a note over the last 24 hours to ask if I knew the results of any of my medical workup yet. Sadly, no. It will probably be at least early next week before I know anything more definitive.

However, I remain very optimistic. Besides, copious amounts of coffee kill precancerous and cancerous cells, yes? Grin.

Thanks for your concern. I expect to be around for a very long time... at least long enough to give the Kerry administration some grief.

Allawi and Chalabi Cut From the Same Cloth?

That was the gist of what I got from one report on "Democracy Now!" today that I caught driving home from the hospital. I wish I caught the name of the expert, but he drew many comparisons between the two, including various nefarious activities, being a little too tight with the U.S. administration to his financial benefit, etc.

More on Tenet's Resignation

There's a lot of speculation about Tenet's resignation today, running really to both extremes (very personal to forced out as a scapegoat).

I just heard Andrea Mitchell giving a report on the NBC flagship station in New York and she assured everyone that Tenet wanted out two months ago, Bush persuaded him to stay, but Tenet came back last night and for purely personal reasons wanted to go.

That may be true. However, here's that little incestuous thing again so prevalent in the Bush Administration (although this one dates all the way back to Clinton and perhaps beyond). Andrea's married to a man who serves at the discretion of President Bush: Alan Greenspan. Andrea's relationship with NBC certainly extends well before her marriage but I still find myself uncomfortable when she reports on administration-related stories (which is often), because of her husband.

Just as she could be privvy to information because of that marriage, she could also be in a position where it makes for a happier, more harmonious household if she doesn't share certain information.

Is Andrea the only person in this position? Hell no! Howie Putz Kurtz is married to a GOP operative. Jonah Goldberg (Lucianne's spawn) is married to someone who works for this administration. The list goes on ad nauseum (with a heavy emphasis on the nauseum). And let's not forget that Maria Shriver, The Arnold's wife, really still works for NBC even though they say she doesn't. She's got some big high profile interviews coming up soon for them.

Sen. John Warner and the Abu Ghraib Scandal

If this Salon article is right, and Sen. John Warner wants to get to the bottom of the Iraqi abuse scandal (which is not by any means limited to Abu Ghraib), regardless of politics, then good for him.

In my view, we owe this to the troops to find out how far up the chain of command the orders went, we owe it to the Iraqis whose country we usurped, and we owe it to ourselves.

Except for Bush-Cheney and the election, I've never seen this as a partisan issue. Lindsey Graham, GOP senator from SC, whom I've detested before, has spoken intelligently on this subject, for example. I'm angered beyond belief that some have turned this into a Democrat vs. GOP issue. Every American should want to know the truth.

Bush-Cheney Soliciting Church Congregations

This is a move that could cost such churches their tax-exempt status. From Yahoo:

The Internal Revenue Service (news - web sites) prohibits political campaign activity, for or against any candidate, from taking place at all organizations that receive tax exempt status under a section of the federal tax code — including most churches and religious groups. Violators could lose their tax breaks and face excise taxes.

Now my understanding from years back is that what the Bush-Cheney re-election team are trying to do has been specifically prohibited in the past. So either they're looking to get the churches' tax exempt status pulled (doubtful) or they have a plan in place to make certain that such congregations can violate the spirit of the law while not getting clubbed for it (far more likely).

It smells worse than the turkey sandwich I attempted to eat for lunch.

CIA Director George Tenet Has Resigned

Just one question: who will Bush, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Perle, Chalabi, et al blame for everything now? I mean, for a few years now, their fingers have been steadily aimed at Tenet for everything from WMD to who left the toilet seat up.

Loaded Firearms

Forgive my naivete, but do most states allow you to carry around loaded handguns on your person? I just discovered our state does and... ugh.

As I've posted here before, I'm not totally anti-gun. I don't believe the right to have a gun is something that should automatically be stripped from a person (along with a lot of other rights that ARE stripped from us).

But why - unless you have a particularly dangerous job - would you need to carry around a loaded handgun? In Vermont, you stand more of a chance of being molested by a moose than encountering someone you would require a gun to protect yourself from (I think). Although we have a surprisingly high murder rate, it's mostly among people who know one another. Another ghastly thought.


Give to the People of Iraq and Afghanistan

While I may not agree with the military actions against these two countries that got our soldiers there, I heartily agree with efforts to help these people.

Some soldiers are going well beyond guns and bombs to assist, and let me join Oliver Willis in recommending you check out Spirit of America. Let's support their actions which will speak far louder than "shock and awe" ever could.

Test Cheat

While I would never dream of cheating on an academic test, I'm accepting any and all suggestions of how to cheat on a CT scan in the morning to make a problem lung look nice and normal. Unfortunately, I need this before 8 AM EDT Thursday. Grin.

Right now, my theory is to put a wig on my male partner, send him in for the scan, and let them try to figure out why his breasts have gotten so much smaller since a mammogram two months ago.

Damn, I didn't sweat my SAT or LSAT as much as this. Unfortunately, the consequences are more dire if I flunk this one (and NO makeups).

Bill Cosby: Sparking Debate

Almost two weeks since his comments caused such a brouhaha, entertainer and education doctorate holder Bill Cosby continues to take heat.

I mean, when bitch witch Lucianne Goldberg (wingnut fanatic) practically calls Cosby brilliant for his comments, I find myself wanting to slink away. Lucianne's Web site - which I refuse to provide a link to, sorta like I would refuse to tell someone where to buy heroin or a loaded pistol - specializes in the most hate-filled people imaginable.

But I'm not going to slink away because I think the most valuable part of Bill Cosby's comments is the debate it has opened up, regardless of race. Sure, some of it is very uncomfortable. Some of it seems to draw from stereotypes we would like to deny. Yet some of it seems accurate in a way that can be stretched to apply to various racial backgrounds, whether Cosby intended it that way or not.

Debate is a good thing. Hopefully, it inspires people to think and to listen as well as to spout. I feel I've learned a few things in some of the debates on the subject of which I've been part, and I'd like to think I shared a bit of wisdom along the way myself.

I can't pretend to be happy with all of his remarks, but I do like some of the results of the discussions it has sparked. Cynthia Tucker, the savvy, eloquent Atlanta Journal Constitution editorial writer, addresses this in a recent piece.

We Let A(nother) Top Terrorist Subject Go

On the heels of learning how many times we allowed al Zarqawi to go free (whether he's alive or dead now seems to be the basis of some speculation), comes this:

Nabil al-Marabh was No. 27 on the FBI's list of terror suspects after Sept. 11. He trained in Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s militant camps, sent money to a roommate convicted in a foiled plot to bomb a hotel and boasted to an informant about plans to blow up a fuel truck inside a New York tunnel, FBI documents allege. The Bush administration set him free — to Syria — even though prosecutors had sought to bring criminal cases against him and judges openly expressed concerns about possible terrorist ties.

The emphasis is mine.

And to Syria? The spot considered most likely as next on our hit list? The great so-called hot bed of terrorism where we take suspects we want to interrogate outside of any finicky little rules about human rights or Geneva Conventions niceties?

Sometimes, I think there has to be a method to this madness while the rest of the time, I'm pretty sure it's just madness.

Is There a Full Moon Tonight?

It really feels like one. If not, I'm living in the middle of a Pinter play. I mean, this is especially odd, even for the Bush years.

Wake me when either the moon or the play is over. If Bush gets re-elected, however, please don't wake me. Cough.

Why Does the Prez Need an Attorney re PlameGate?

Seems curious to me.


Tom Friedman is on Hardass Hardball right now promoting his series on the above-referenced topic telling us that outsourcing is not a problem.


    Bill Keller, Sr. Honcho
    The New York Times

    Dear Mr. Keller:

    Can we PLEASE outsource Mr. Friedman's job?

    I'm sure there's someone in India or Pakistan that can a) write better b) be less intellectually dishonest and c) not be such a bleeping flake.

    Thank you!

The Dark Cloud of John Negroponte

Buzzflash points us to this piece in The Guardian (UK) about John Negroponte:

Suspicious deaths in custody. Allegations of torture. Claims of a military out of control. These are some of the key issues that will face John Negroponte, US ambassador to the United Nations, when he takes over this month as US ambassador to Iraq.

Suspicious deaths in custody. Allegations of torture. Claims of a military out of control. Those were some of the key issues that faced John Negroponte 20 years ago when he was US ambassador to Honduras. So it is worth examining how he reacted then when faced with evidence of extra-judicial killings, torture and human rights abuses.

McCain as Bush's Replacement VP?

The Village Voice says that John McCain may be the presumptive choice for George Bush to replace Dick Cheney as his ratings continue to tank.

While this is an interesting idea, a) I'm not sure McCain would care to be Bush's second (with Cheney still running things behind the Wizard's curtain and b) I don't think McCain particularly wants to save this president's ass.

Not Everyone in Crawford Loves Bush

The mayor, for example, plans to vote for John Kerry.

Open Thread - Go Ahead

I'm not sure how much posting I'll get done both today and tomorrow, as both work and medical tests cut into my time (now that I've said this, watch me post 40 items). But you're welcome to use the comments here to begin a discussion of your own.

While I don't go out of my way to advertise this blog, we're starting to get a small regular following of intelligent people, and I enjoy reading your comments and getting to know some of you.

So Who Gave Chalabi the Dirt on Iran?

That's the question left hanging in this Times article, which Josh Marshall explores in more detail. It had to be someone both close to Chalabi and knowledgeable about Iran, which limits some of the possibilities. Not, of course, that anyone will apologize or acknowledge what they did or... heavens forbid... pay for what amounts to an intelligence/security crime.

Additional Links

Over the past few weeks, I've been slowly adding good links to the blog roster at the right, including Laura Rozen's excellent "War and Piece", CounterPunch (both suggested by reader CK), along with a In Search of Utopia, Mad Kane's great sites, and others. Check them out as you have time.


Kids and Vets Among Bush's New Planned Program Cuts

From AP on Yahoo comes word on the new ways Mr. Bush will fund massive tax cuts for the wealthy:

_Domestic security at the Homeland Security Department and other agencies would go from $30.6 billion in 2005 to $29.6 billion in 2006, a 3 percent drop.
    _The Education Department would go from $57.3 billion in 2005 to $55.9 billion in 2006, 2.4 percent less.

    _The Veterans Affairs Department would fall 3.4 percent from $29.7 billion in 2005 to $28.7 billion.

    _The Environmental Protection Agency would drop from $7.8 billion in 2005 to $7.6 billion, or 2.6 percent.

    _The National Institutes of Health, which finances biomedical research and had its budget doubled over a recent five-year period, would fall from $28.6 billion to $28 billion, or 2.1 percent.

    _The Interior Department would fall 1.9 percent from $10.8 billion in 2005 to $10.6 billion.

    _The Defense Department would grow 5.2 percent to $422.7 billion in 2006, and the Justice Department (news - web sites) would increase 4.3 percent to $19.5 billion in 2006.

Fahrenheit 911 Opens June 25th

I'm sure Mr. Bush will take Condi and Dick to see it.

Enron Caught on Tape, Laughing at Us, Praising Bush

Lovely, lovely, lovely story at CBS News.

Here's a particularly enchanting excerpt (and note that the DoJ tried to prevent the release of these tapes):

"It'd be great. I'd love to see Ken Lay Secretary of Energy," says one Enron worker.

That didn't happen, but they were sure President Bush would fight any limits on sky-high energy prices.

"When this election comes Bush will f------g whack this s--t, man. He won't play this price-cap b------t."

Crude, but true.

"We will not take any action that makes California's problems worse and that's why I oppose price caps," said Mr. Bush on May 29, 2001.

Both the Justice Department and Enron tried to prevent the release of these tapes. Enron's lawyers argued they merely prove "that people at Enron sometimes talked like Barnacle Bill the Sailor."

Judith Miller Exposed

OK, not really. Thankfully, there's not even a naked centerfold of her (bless you God!).

But New York Magazine does offer a portrait of the woman at The Times who helped so heartily to take us to war - not that Mr. Bush and Halliburton exactly needed their arms twisted - and try to justify it through all those wrong reports about the presence of WMD (Weapons of Miller Distraction).

Ms. Miller, who channels Ahmed Chalabi and has not offered anything even approaching an apology for her behavior, her tactics, and - not to mention - her fucking errors, makes for an interest case study. For example, from the piece:

The Judy Miller problem is complicated. That is, the very qualities that endeared Miller to her editors at the New York Times—her ambition, her aggressiveness, her cultivation of sources by any means necessary, her hunger to be first—were the same ones that allowed her to get the WMD story so wrong.

Miller is a star, a diva. She wrote big stories, won big prizes. Long before her WMD articles ran, Miller had become a newsroom legend—and for reasons that had little to do with the stories that appeared beneath her byline. With her seemingly bottomless ambition—a pair of big feet that would stomp on colleagues in her way and even crunch a few bystanders—she cut a larger-than-life figure that lent itself to Paul Bunyan–esque retellings. Most of these stories aren’t kind. Of course, nobody said journalism was a country club. And her personality was immaterial while she was succeeding, winning a Pulitzer, warning the world about terrorism, bio-weapons, and Iraq’s war machine. But now, who she is, and why she prospered, makes for a revealing cautionary tale about the culture of American journalism.

But the piece is just that. It's an interesting look at a diva, the one who tried to order the military around, threatening to tattle to Donald Rumsfeld on anyone who tried to say no to her, without really giving us a greater look at how such a mistake was allowed to pass her editors. Ultimately, her editors should have caught and stopped her. They did not.

It also really failed to explain why her ass hasn't been fired.

High Volume Email Deployer

That's a new term on us, but the Daily Show's Rob Cordry's piece tonight tells us that isn't Spam and spammers. Or actually, the fellow he's interviewing says this. He says they're responding to the need of people to receive Email. He's providing a service. He says there are just a few people out there who don't want it.

"They use deceptive practice to invade my privacy...they act like terrorist groups," the man says about those who mail bomb him in response to his beloved high volume email deployment.

Sorry, I'm still staring at the TV in horror and confusion (not to be confused with shock and awe).

Campaign Negavity, So Strong, So Early

At least a couple of reports are out analyzing the presidential campaign ads thus far and to no surprise to anyone paying attention, the Bush ads are strongly focused on dumping negativity on the issue of John Kerry. The major report says that Bush negativity in ads is running at an astounding 76+%, while Kerry's ad are unfavorable to Bush about 28% of the time.

Aside from what candidate each of us supports, it's sad to see this go on. I'm glad to see that Kerry isn't indulging in the same hatefulness. But it also tells me that Bush's people realize they can't run just on the strength of their candidate (perhaps because his record is pretty shabby). After all, for all the talk of the great economy, it's really not all that hot. His cabinet is consumed with press ops and snarking at one another. We're probably less, not more safe, because of the actions Bush has taken. And all that talk of freedom is just talk: Bush and company has done more to undo the freedoms promised to us under the Constitution than perhaps any other president in history (and we've had some bad moments in the past).

Whether you look at the issue of health care, education for the young, supporting the troops with anything more than lip service, care for our elderly, women's issues, equitability in taxation, the economy, national safety, our position in the world - there's really nothing that Bush has not affected badly in his tenure.

Even if we can unseat him in November, it will take years to undo the damage his administration has wrought. And that's even sadder than the negativity in the campaign ads thus far.

Laci Peterson

The trial against her husband accused of the crime began today, and I'm rather hoping the public doesn't pay far more attention to it than more pressing issues (efforts to rescind at least parts of the Patriot Act, the motivations behind why we went to Iraq and why we handle the country the way they do, the nastiness of this campaign (see another post reporting the strong negativity pushed by the Bush campaign, and so on).

Yes, her death and that of her unborn child were a shame. Yes, her husband was at best a creep for having another woman on the side (although the other woman's penchant for having out-of-wedlock kids with other men, others married, too, hardly makes me weep for her as a victim), but a creep isn't necessarily a murderer. Hopefully, the trial will find the right answer to whether or not her husband is guilty.

But this trial is nothing more than another distraction. Unfortunately, she and her baby are dead and no amount of gaping at the trial will change that.

Chris Matthews Gets it Back

I love it. Michael Wolff is telling Chris Matthews that despite Chris' claims otherwise, Chris was as gung-ho about the Iraq war and the WMD issue as anyone, while Matthews insists that he was the war's biggest critic.

The truth, as it often does, lies somewhere between the two extremes although Wolff is more correct. Matthews did make some moans about the war until it was launched, and then he seemed to jump onboard. Once the war began to go badly, and the WMD weren't found, etc. Matthews' criticism jumped ahead again.

This isn't extraordinary for Chris Matthews. He loves to say he's right and loves it even more when people tell him that he is. He's claimed before that he was completely right when he certainly was not. But... well, life goes on.

Good for Wolff for calling him on it, and good for Matthews for not 100% buying Bush's motives for war.

Late Term Abortion Ban Illegal

A federal judge has struck down the Bush-pushed late term abortion ban stating that it interfered with a woman's basic right to choose.

If You're Confused about the New Jose Padilla Info

Join the club. The Justice Department came out today with a great deal more information that certainly makes it seem that they were right to detain him. But what I heard was that he was planning to blow up apartments using gas (as in natural gas), while the news media keeps saying he was going to blow up parts of cities using dirty bombs. There's a big difference between the two.

Yet, after all the time he's been held (remember, he's a citizen) without seeing an attorney, I don't know how well to access the nature of any statements he's made. Did we subject him to torture? Under torture, people tend to give very unreliable statements, typically delivering something closer to what they perceive the captors want to hear.

I would think the truth would be more important that just any incriminating statements they can wrench out of him.

Iraq Hijaaked?

This from Josh Marshall:

Now that some of the dust has settled, we can see one thing pretty clearly: the IGC basically hijacked the process. The IGC essentially reconstituted as a caretaker government. The new President, Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar, was the current president of the IGC. Hoshiyar Zebari, who was the foreign minister in the IGC, is now the foreign minister under the interim government. Allawi was a member of and choice of the IGC, etc. And so on down the list. The only key issue is that Chalabi, if not his crew, has been purged. Brahimi agreed to a laying on of hands. But he didn't make the choices. He was sidelined.

The Patriot Act Besieged

Read Ned Hentoff's piece in the May 28th Village Voice, which begins with this quote:

The objective of the Patriot Act [is to make] the population visible and the Justice Department invisible. The Act inverts the constitutional requirement that people's lives be private and the work of government officials be public; it instead crafts a set of conditions that make our inner lives transparent and the workings of government opaque. - Elaine Scarry, "Acts of Resistance," Harper's Magazine, May 2004

Even Some GOP Want More Oversight of Mr. Bush's Plans and Policies

Again, from The Times:

Members of Congress have a proud tradition of asking witnesses tough questions at famous inquiries like the Watergate and Iran-contra hearings. Now the Iraqi prison abuse scandal has some lawmakers asking a hard question of themselves: What doesn't Congress know and why doesn't it know it?

The disclosures about the treatment of detainees, coupled with complaints from some quarters about the Bush administration's handling of antiterrorism money, have ignited a debate over whether Congress is keeping a close enough eye on the White House and staying adequately informed on developments in Iraq.

Democracy According to Bush and Bremer

Paul Bremer has threatened to veto the choice of new leader of Iraqi by the Iraqi people.

About the Secret Evacuation of Saudis After 9/11

From Craig Unger's OpEd in today's Times:

Americans who think the 9/11 commission is going to answer all the crucial questions about the terrorist attacks are likely to be sorely disappointed — especially if they're interested in the secret evacuation of Saudis by plane that began just after Sept. 11.

We knew that 15 out of 19 hijackers were Saudis. We knew that Osama bin Laden, a Saudi, was behind 9/11. Yet we did not conduct a police-style investigation of the departing Saudis, of whom two dozen were members. of the bin Laden family. That is not to say that they were complicit in the attacks.

Unfortunately, though, we may never know the real story. The investigative panel has already concluded that there is "no credible evidence that any chartered flights of Saudi Arabian nationals departed the United States before the reopening of national airspace." But the real point is that there were still some restrictions on American airspace when the Saudi flights began.

In addition, new evidence shows that the evacuation involved more than the departure of 142 Saudis on six charter flights that the commission is investigating. According to newly released documents, 160 Saudis left the United States on 55 flights immediately after 9/11 — making a total of about 300 people who left with the apparent approval of the Bush administration, far more than has been reported before. The records were released by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington.

The vast majority of the newly disclosed flights were commercial airline flights, not charters, often carrying just two or three Saudi passengers. They originated from more than 20 cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Houston. One Saudi Arabian Airlines flight left Kennedy Airport on Sept. 13 with 46 Saudis. The next day, another Saudi Arabian Airlines flight left with 13 Saudis.

The panel has indicated that it has yet to find any evidence that the F.B.I. checked the manifests of departing flights against its terror watch list. The departures of additional Saudis raise more questions for the panel. Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar, told The Hill newspaper recently that he took full responsibility for approving some flights. But we don't know if other Bush administration officials participated in the decision.

George Bush, Robin Hood in Reverse

From Paul Krugman today(Tuesday):

Last week The Washington Post got hold of an Office of Management and Budget memo that directed federal agencies to prepare for post-election cuts in programs that George Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. These include nutrition for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeland security. The numbers match those on a computer printout leaked earlier this year — one that administration officials claimed did not reflect policy.

Beyond the routine mendacity, the case of the leaked memo points us to a larger truth: whatever they may say in public, administration officials know that sustaining Mr. Bush's tax cuts will require large cuts in popular government programs. And for the vast majority of Americans, the losses from these cuts will outweigh any gains from lower taxes.

It has long been clear that the Bush administration's claim that it can simultaneously pursue war, large tax cuts and a "compassionate" agenda doesn't add up. Now we have direct confirmation that the White House is engaged in bait and switch, that it intends to pursue a not at all compassionate agenda after this year's election.

That agenda is to impose Dooh Nibor economics — Robin Hood in reverse. The end result of current policies will be a large-scale transfer of income from the middle class to the very affluent, in which about 80 percent of the population will lose and the bulk of the gains will go to people with incomes of more than $200,000 per year.

Add 5 More to the Dead List

From The Times:

At least five American soldiers died in Iraq during a 24-hour period that began Sunday, two of them fighting insurgents in the holy city of Kufa during the unraveling of a cease-fire agreement with a rebel Shiite cleric, military officials said Monday.

Add that to the four killed in Afghanistan and note the use of the phrase "at least".

But at least Mr. Bush got his nice, safe photo op at Arlington National Cemetery and really, that's all that counts. Right?

From CNN, With Editing

President Bush [who has not bothered to attend a single soldier's funeral in either war he invoked] marked Memorial Day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, telling families of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan that their loved ones "served the cause of freedom making our pals at Halliburton and Bechtel rich, thus funding my re-election. Now I gotta get back to the White House and catch the wrassling match on TV."


More Taxes=Better Paid Troops? No.

CNN has as its poll question: Would you be willing to pay additional taxes to better pay US troops?

At first glance, it's a straightforward question and some might be surprised to see that the results are pretty much split down the middle between yea and nay.

Here's the background issue, however. The Pentagon receives an unprecedented amount of every tax dollar paid. However, the Pentagon uses it badly. Between overpaid contracts, flying its top people around first class (people like Richard Perle, who I'd rather see have to walk, thank you very much), spending outrageous sums for projects they know won't fly, and a lot of secret stuff that Donald Rumsfeld will never divulge to us, the one thing they never budget for is sufficient funds to pay the troops. Hell, they don't even get the troops home to their own doorstep after they've fulfilled their military service obligations.

There is no need to raise taxes to pay our soldiers a living wage for the kind of dangerous work they do. Mr. Rumsfeld doesn't subsist on a tiny little income. They shouldn't either. But the problem isn't that the Pentagon doesn't get enough money (far too much in comparison with all other areas, if you ask me). It's that they think of the troops as the least important component, and pay them accordingly.

So here's my take. Sure, I would be willing to pay additional tax dollars to more appropriately pay our troops, but only AFTER the Pentagon becomes far more responsible for the money they're given. Force Rumsfeld and all the people who come after them to give the troops a BIG pay raise (we pay them abysmally now), and then pay for all their other shit. The troops get paid first, all the perks for the Secretary of DoD and all the nice extras come after. Don't just give the DoD a blank check and let them decide how to spend it. They've proven time and again not to be trustworthy in this regard.

US Fails Iraqi Police

From CNN, not so much of a surprise as it should be:

The U.S. Army "dropped the ball" and treated Iraqi police officers like second-class citizens when they arrived to begin joint patrols with coalition troops in Najaf, an American adviser said Monday. The adviser said no sleeping arrangements were made, they were given no personal gear for their duties, and were given military rations for meals that included pork.

World War II Memorial

Too little, too late?

In talking to several people over the past several days on the subject, most agree that it's appropriate but should have occurred long ago. More importantly, I'd like to be sure the health needs of these veterans continue to be covered - something the Bush Administration has been cutting faster than ties to the soldiers linked to the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

Who is John Galt?

It's not George Bush, I'll tell you that much.

More Than 200 US Soldiers Dead in Just 2 Months

That's an astounding number of Iraq casualties, and just note our losses at a time so close to the proposed handover date (which is, in itself, a strange sleight-of-hand manuever designed to allow Mr. Bush to distance himself from the mess, while we still will maintain an incredible amount of control over a country its own people will have little power to alter).

Imagine. Twenty-five percent of our entire casualties occurred a full year after Mr. Bush declared the major warfare over. After this administration strained its collective arms patting itself on the back.

And Bush Administration accountability for any of this? A big, fat zero.

Powerful Doonesbury

Check this out.

My Diet Recommendation

Nursing a cold (I think), I've invented a new diet which largely consists of low-fat Triscuits, peanut M&Ms, sugar-free bubblegum, and copious amounts of coffee.

And, let me point out, unlike Dr. Robert Atkins, I'm still alive. However, I need to find some dental floss and soon.

New Poll

As you may have noticed, there's a new poll in place at the right of the blog itself, along with results from last week's poll.

Families of the War-Occupied

I found it tough to get into a holiday mood today, largely because I thought not only of those who have died in the past two years between Iraq and Afghanistan, but also their families. For many of them, this certainly was not a day of celebration, of potato salad, or fireworks.

I was not born for well more than a decade past the end of WWII, but I remember well how vividly my mother spoke of those years in which my father was gone in service. With three small children at home and she herself barely more than past her teens, it was a nightmare time of near poverty, fear for her husband, fear of having to raise her kids by herself. He returned after we bombed Japan, he one of the first troops on the island after the devastation we wrought. And he returned with nightmares and devastating health problems, including malaria which would recur again and again until his death twenty years later (just shy of his 40th birthday).

While neither of my parents were anti-war, my own feelings against it were borne of their stories - hers at home and his in the Pacific theatre. Thus, while I can't pretend to know what it's like to have a spouse at war, I know what it meant to my family, and imagined often what it was like for the families on the other side of the conflict.

The False Controversy of Stem Cell Research

Michael Kinsley offers a good article in Time this week, link courtesy of Atrios.

Pakistani Bomb Blast

Right now, they're reporting 16 dead. This after a pro-Taliban cleric was killed causing Pakistani street riots.

Mythologies of Peace

Skip this post if you want, but I feel compelled to share a strange dream I had overnight, prompted by a discussion with my partner who's reading one of the Joseph Campbell books. He noted before bed that Campbell writes that while the mythologies of war have stood the test of time, mythologies of peace are less numerous and have not become embedded (ah, that word).

In the dream, I'm coming back from a business trip, flying into Danbury (CT) airport - in reality a small dinky private airfield but in my dream, an expansive commercial affair but lacking any real security. Something happens so my transportation isn't available, and I'm hit with either paying $250 for the night to stay in the Danbury Hilton (a real place but certainly not as in the dream) or pay hundreds to have a taxi take me home.

Unhappy, I check into the hotel, which is very much like Vegas. Slot machines, scantily clad, costumed women, amusements and arcades all about. Everyone is being encouraged to drink, to gamble, to distract themselves. You seem to have to walk a mile or more to get to the bank of elevators.

I stop, tired, halfway to the elevators, holding my suitcase, and notice this extremely tall, bearded man in a light summer suit, come through the gold and glass doors into the lobby and seemingly glide across the lobby toward the elevators. He draws my attention because it's surreal how he glides. Just as he's about to pass me, he stops and turns, and without fully looking at me (although I'm the only one around), he says, "The mythologies of peace have never been clearly defined."

Then, without another word, he resumes his glide to the elevators and then disappears into a waiting car.

Only after I awake do I realize that the man is bin Laden while the lobby floor manager, operating in a booth high above the lobby, looks surprisingly like our president, overseeing the distractions of the people mulling about beneath him.

Israeli Missile Attacks Kills More Palestinians

How many is not being reported by ABC news, which provides the headline CNN et al do not carry at this hour.

Ahmed Chalabi, The Manipulator, the Controversy Re: Iran

Jane Mayer offers an in-depth piece in the current issue of The New Yorker Magazine. Notably:

Although Chalabi developed enemies at the C.I.A. who disputed his intelligence data and questioned his ethics, he forged a close bond with Vice-President Dick Cheney and many of the top civilians at the Pentagon, such as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under-Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and Under-Secretary of Defense William J. Luti. Yet now that the occupation of Iraq appeared to be headed toward disaster, he said, many in the Administration had united in making him the scapegoat.

Bin Laden No Longer Top Terror Concern

ABC News is reporting that the US government has replaced bin Laden at the top of the list with al Zarqawi, the same man they reported dead several months ago.

Interesting that all the letters needed to spell "Bush" are found in the word "bullshit."

Servicemen Die in Afghanistan

ABC news is reporting now that four American GIs have been killed in Afghanistan.

To quote the Defense Secretary, the War on Terror has only just begun. Unfortunate since so many hundreds of troops have died, along with thousands of civilians, and with so many troops overextended along with reservists and national guard people who were never intended to be deployed for more than a year at a time.

Wherever shall we get the people power? Oh wait. The draft. Likely to be announced two seconds after Bush wins or loses the campaign on November 2nd. For some, the draft has already begun in the form of forced reinstatements to active duty.

A Man and His Trophy Gun

Did anyone else find it in rather poor taste that the president has proudly kept his trophy of a gun taken from Saddam Hussein after he was captured in the so-called spider hole last December?

Sure, at first blush, it perhaps seems a reasonable thing to do. In fact, some of the right most wing of the NRA (and no, I don't think every member of the NRA is a wingnut like "pry this gun from my cold, dead hands" Chuck Heston) would have pilloried him had Bush publicly refused to do so.

But for a group so offended by the opulence in which Saddam lived while his people starved and the unabashed violence of his rule, this administration was quick to seize his big, lavish, air conditioned palaces in which people like Bremer could ensconce themselves, grab the torture rooms of places like Abu Ghraib to inflict more torture, and to proudly carry around his gun as a symbol of the president's um... manliness.

Ah, but there's where my opinion and the right wing's would surely differ because I think the Iraq War was all about symbols for this president. He's not lost a wink of sleep - nor his mother had to worry her "beautiful mind" over the hundreds of coalition force deaths or the thousands of civilian deaths in order that he may have such a symbol of potency to show his friends.

Even Vietnam did not quite have this degree of stench attached to it, or quite the pettiness of symbology.

(See how grumpy I become when I don't sleep?)

Cheney's Office Denies Halliburton Deal Involvement

As even a dazzling brain like Jessica Simpson might anticipate, VP Dick Cheney's office has denied involvement in a deal that awarded Halliburton a lucrative no-bid contract. From CNN:

Vice President Dick Cheney's office denied Sunday that he was involved in a coordinated effort to secure a multibillion dollar Iraq oil deal for Halliburton, his former employer.

A reference to such an arrangement was made in an internal Pentagon e-mail from an Army Corps of Engineers official to another Pentagon employee, Time magazine reports in its June 7 edition, which is due on newsstands Monday.

The existence of the e-mail was confirmed to CNN by a senior administration official familiar with it.

The e-mail -- dated March 5, 2003 -- says Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, approved the arrangement to award the contract to the oil-services company, the administration official said.

According to an e-mail excerpt in Time, the contract was "contingent on informing WH [White House] tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w[ith] VP's office."

16 Point Lead for John Kerry?

And this reported in Illinois.

Frankly, I think dog poo or Richard Simmons could win over Bush at this point IF you don't count rigged voting machines and Supreme (as in Court) intervention.


Thank You

While I may strongly disagree with the Iraq war and what came before it in Afghanistan (which is such a dangerous mess Iraq looks civil and wonderful by comparison), this is no way diminishes my respect and appreciation for the men and women who risk everything they have to try to fight honorably the wars our leaders send them into.

To each and every one of them (the soldiers, not the leaders), those still with us and those long since passed, thank you.

A National ID Card

Here, The Times explores the issue.

I'm still opposed to the idea in principle. Pretty soon, especially if Bush is re-elected and anyone like John Ashcroft and Don Rumsfeld hold those positions, our every movement is going to be tracked. In the end, no national ID card would have stopped 9/11 because we allowed those people into the country.

With that said, what in hell purpose would such a national ID card serve?

And as long as we're talking about useless pieces of dreck, you might want to read William Safire's column today. Nixon's favorite apologist tells us there's good reason for optimism about Iraq. The only bit of optimism I found was that Safire is getting older and may retire soon.

Our Tax Dollars at Bush's Non-Work

From today's Times:

President Bush is using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor, wringing maximum political mileage from a perk of office paid for by taxpayers.

While Democratic rival John Kerry digs into his campaign bank account to charter a plane to roam the country, Bush often travels at no cost to his campaign simply by declaring a trip ``official'' travel rather than ``political.''

Even when the White House deems a trip as political, the cost to Bush's campaign is minimal. In such instances, the campaign must only pay the government the equivalent of a comparable first-class fare for each political traveler on each leg, Federal Election Commission guidelines say.

Usually, that means paying a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for the president and a handful of aides. It's a minuscule sum, compared to the $56,800-per-hour the Air Force estimates it costs to run Air Force One.

"You Slut"

That's basically what conservative columnist Michelle Malkin - not one of the 5 or 6 billion greater minds of our times - calls Washington worker-turned-sex scandalist Jessica Cutler as well as Wonkette in her most recent column.

I mean, I myself wouldn't like to be called a slut, but I'd sure as hell prefer it to being called Michelle Malkin - aka a sanctimonious, self-righteous, hate-filled, frigid, Bush brown-nosing, crap of a hack. And those are Michelle's best points. Well, that, and that she'll probably never graduate to be Ann Coulter (although unlike Ann, Michelle was probably born female and not aided through surgery to become one). Cough.

Thankfully, however, I'm in a good mood.

A Strange Bit of Trivia

According to something I heard today, the name "Al Qaeda" comes from nothing this group of terrorists calls themselves but is a name intelligence gave them because they often stopped at a place called al Qaeda - sort of like a Muslim bed and breakfast - on the way to Afghanistan.

In other words, they could have easily been called The Biltmore or The Trump Tower.

Perhaps Fantasia Barrina Could Play Condi Rice

...in a musical based on the Bush years. Simon Cowell could play Dick Cheney, and that stupid guy from the first season, Clay, could play Bush.

Then perhaps Mr. Bush's poll numbers will come up.

Just our way of trying to translate Washington politics into something presentable on the Fox Channel.

This Has Been One Terrible Poker Game

Like the good folks at Pandagon, I urge you to read EJ Dionne's latest piece in the Washington Post. It takes a strong, hard look at tbe buildup to war and how we came as a country to feel so terribly divided.


Instead of reaching out to doubters, Bush derided them. On the campaign trail in September 2002, he characterized Democratic members of Congress who wanted a strong mandate from the United Nations -- exactly what the administration is seeking now -- as evading responsibility. "It seems like to me that if you're representing the United States," he said, "you ought to be making a decision on what's best for the United States." Didn't his opponents think that defending the interests of the United States was exactly what they were doing? Bush continued: "If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, 'Vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "

No wonder the country is so polarized. Behind the president's plummeting poll numbers and public restlessness about the war is an emerging truth about the administration's way of doing business. Iraq was a preemptive war pursued by a president who governs by preemption.

There is a sad irony here, sad for Bush and for the country he leads. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush had the opportunity to transform himself from the winner of a disputed election into a leader with unparalleled political authority. If you are a Bush supporter, it's worth contemplating the benefits of the road not taken.

Rumsfeld: The War on Terror Has Barely Begun

I am dumbfounded.

Hundreds of American and coalition lives losts. Scores of thousands of civilians in Irag, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Billions of dollars spent each month just on warfare. And it's only just begun?

Intense Firefight in Kufa

CNN is reporting a fierce, intense firefight between American forces and what are believed to be militants loyal to al Sadr.

Thirty days to go. Tick, tick, tick.

Iraqis Fail to Be Impressed by Choice of New P.M.

Finally, someone bothered to ask the Iraqis what they think of their new prime minister. From Reuters:

News that Iyad Allawi had been chosen as interim prime minister on Friday did little to cheer many Iraqis who dismissed him as an outsider lacking the political experience to lead the country out of post-war chaos.

"What is his political experience? I know nothing about him. He lived abroad as an exile. We need someone who lived here who can pull Iraq out of a crisis," said a hotel manager who declined to give his name.

"Iraq is the same as it was in the time of Saddam Hussein except now I am afraid of militiamen so I can't say my name."

Halliburton and Mr. Cheney, You Presume

Dick Cheney keeps saying he has no real ties to Halliburton, who's made the biggest profit from Iraq War Redux (even more than the Al Qaeda recruiters).

Time Magazine, however, has apparently uncovered some... oh, shall we call it... discrepancies in his version? Here:

Cheney's relationship with Halliburton has been nothing but trouble since he left the company in 2000. Both he and the company say they have no ongoing connections. But TIME has obtained an internal Pentagon e-mail sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official—whose name was blacked out by the Pentagon—that raises questions about Cheney's arm's-length policy toward his old employer. Dated March 5, 2003, the e-mail says "action" on a multibillion-dollar Halliburton contract was "coordinated" with Cheney's office. The e-mail says Douglas Feith, a high-ranking Pentagon hawk, got the "authority to execute RIO," or Restore Iraqi Oil, from his boss, who is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. RIO is one of several large contracts the U.S. awarded to Halliburton last year.

The e-mail says Feith approved arrangements for the contract "contingent on informing WH [White House] tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's [Vice President's] office." Three days later, the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton the contract, without seeking other bids. TIME located the e-mail among documents provided by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

Police Leave Najaf; Peace Deal in Question

From CNN:

About 100 Iraqi police, who had arrived in Najaf this week to begin joint patrols with U.S.-led coalition forces, have left the Shiite holy city, according to U.S. military officials.

It was not clear why they apparently deserted their posts on Sunday, but it has added to the skepticism at the U.S. military base in Najaf that a unilateral peace agreement announced three days ago by Shiite representatives will quell the ongoing violence.

Taking Applications for a Position I Haven't Decided to Consider Yet

If any of you have any interest in doing a bit of guest blogging, drop me a note.

With recent developments here, it's possible I may get unfortunately busy early next month (hopefully not), although I've been known to even take my laptop into ICU with me.

The contact address is over there on the right (it's about the only right-hanging thing about me right now.. ahem).

Ashcroft to Go Before November Election?

That's the speculation, with some calling his big press moments this week the icing on a hastily baked farewell cake.

Ah, c'mon. Keep him around long enough to fire or indict him. Pretty please?

Buzzflash Refers to This as the New "American Idol" Winner

We're not sure he's that far off, with a link from Yahoo.

The One Month Countdown

Thirty-one days from today, on June 30th, we (rhetorically speaking) turn control of Iraq over to the Iraqi people.

It's going to be an interesting month, in any respect. Frankly, however, I expected huge amounts of violence to follow the announcement of Allawi's naming as prime minister on Friday. That has not come to pass (and there's really no indication the Saudi killings and taking of hostages had anything to do with this directly).

But then, coverage today has been limited to honoring the WWII veterans. News networks can't multitask.