Americans Object to Graphic War Images Posted Online

Strange. I think it's more to the point to object to the behavior that is depicted in those photographs.

If you think war is too graphic, too brutal, too unfair, why do you scream and yell for war? Real people die... or get so depressed, injured, scared they wish to die. Ra ra ra us into war but if you do, don't you dare expect candy coated results.

Ex Parks Chief Says She Was Fired for Being Honest

You've no doubt heard her story before, when she - Teresa Chambers - got called on the carpet and eventually fired after she had the nerve to say the parks police department was massively overtaxed and such.

Now she's speaking out in more detail in such venues as this interview with CNN.

Max Sawicky on the Pentagon, the Money They Spend, and the President's Dead Records

And he says it eloquently, too:

They can't even keep track of the money they spend, so how can you expect them to maintain records that are 30 years old?

This is the Kind of Mess I Could Get Myself Into

Jeanne at Body and Soul has an excellent piece entitled "Only Foreigners and Writers are Terrorists" that I would recommend you read. Very enlightening. More than a bit scary, too, especially considering what the abortion clinic bomber was not charged with because the judge said he was domestic and thus not a terrorist.

Blessings to Same Sex Couples Registering as Domestic Partners

It ain't marriage, but it's a start in a direction that has been denied them too long.

Congratulations, ladies and ladies, and gentlemen and gentlemen of New Jersey.

Throwing Away the Oatmeal Cookie I Was Eating

From CNN:

South African Philip Rabinowitz became the world's fastest 100-year-old on Saturday, slashing more than five seconds off the record for the 100 meter sprint for centenarians.

"Oh, I feel wonderful now, absolutely wonderful," Rabinowitz said after finishing in a time of 30.86 seconds and breaking the previous mark of 36.19 set by Austrian Erwin Jaskulski.
And it took all the energy I had, too, to walk all the way out to the kitchen to get that cookie.

Here's the Enticement You Need to Fly Again

The Airlines decided that what we REALLY want to do on long flights is exercise - you know, that thing lots of us won't do in the comfort of home.

This is just a great idea. I've seen broad-hipped but not obese women have to side step some aisles because the space between is so damned narrow. I had a panic attack in the last plane bathroom I was in because I've seen sardine cans with more room.

Yet the airlines believe they have plenty of room to let you exercise during your flight. For example, you can:

    * learn ju-jitsu for tackling out that minister from Jersey you think is a terrorist
    * practice standing on your head for the entire flight so the man sitting next to you who is sprawled over 2/3rds of your seat (and you) has more room
    * perform abdominal crunches while you're going in and out of the fetal position, praying to assorted Gods that the FAA doesn't accidentally order your plane shot down because it's from a blue state
    * do upper body workouts as you have to keep putting your luggage back in the overhead bin when it slips out (as it will again and again and again)
    * practice high jumps for getting over seats while kids play in the aisle keeping you from your desperate arrival at the lavatory
    * perform ballet when you're left jumping about cross legged because you still haven't reached the bathroom
    * wrestling to prepare for what happens when the next security clearance inspector asks if you'll step aside for a deep cavity search, to be conducted by Mr. Ashcroft himself

Filipino Hostage Apparently Not Released

That's what news services are saying now, while it's unclear if there has been any word from his alleged kidnappers since the Philippines said it would remove the last of its troops in Iraq.

I hope this changes and soon.

Hail to the Flip Flopper in Chief

A few facts to balance Bush and the GOP's claims that Kerry can't stay firm on an issue.

The Hoo-Haw Over the Dem Fundraising Bash the Other Night

Republicans are up in arms. When Dems threw a benefit concert and performance for the new team of Kerry-Edwards, many Hollywood types were there. Whoopi Goldberg was Whoopi Goldberg: tough-talking, irreverant, and funny. Barbara Streisand was her strident self. Paul Newman and Ben Affleck said they really did not need the tax cuts the president has bestowed on the richest.

And for that, GOP operatives are shouting for the tape of the event to be released like it's a big public scandal. I happened to see Deborah Orin from the NY Post on Hardball last night, and she was acting like this party was the most obscene thing she'd ever seen (I guess she didn't spy any of those pictures of bomb-scattered children in Iraq or any of the prisoner videos). She insisted the right had never been anything but respectful of Clinton even when they didn't like him (I hurt myself laughing very hard at that). When asked if the release of Cheney's energy task force meetings didn't rate more legitimate public concern (and everyone up to the Supreme Court's trying to keep this under wraps, Ms. Orin implied the Dem party issue was much, much worse for American society as a whole.

Here's her nitwit writeup in The Post.

The President Who Can Only Court Black Support Out of the Light of the Media

From the Wilmington Journal:

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Kweisi Mfume says President George Bush is treating the Black community like prostitutes by claiming to want the Black vote while snubbing the NAACP’s annual convention for four consecutive years.

“We’re not fools. If you’re going to court us, court us in the daytime, but not like we’re a prostitute where you run around at night or behind closed doors and want to deal with us, but not want to deal with us in the light of the day,” says Mfume. “Mr. Bush has now distinguished himself as the first president since Warren Harding (1920-1923) who has not met with the NAACP. So, we’ve got a 95-year history and a president that’s prepared to take us back to the days of Jim Crow segregation and dominance, an era where dialog is required, not distance.”

Overwhelmingly No

A CNN poll has been asking since yesterday if the Senate report on the CIA "bungles" changes their decision on the rightness/wrongness of the war. About 80% say NO.

US Marine Wasseff Hassoun

I'm not one of the people jumpying to conclusions that this 24-yr-old deserted/cooked up a plot with fake captors/just wanted out. I would hope that everyone approaches this story understanding that a) it's going to be awfully difficult to place ourselves in this young marine's shoes and b) that he's innocent until proven otherwise.

He went to Iraq to serve his country. Until proven otherwise, he deserves nothing but our respect, our care, and due process of law (which is unfortunately a few steps up from what Rumsfeld's military offers).

My heart goes out to his family in Utah. This whole thing must have been a nightmare for them and likely continues to be so with so many questions swirling about.

Filipino Hostage Released; Phillipines to Bring Its Troops Home

From CNN:

Insurgents in Iraq have freed a Filipino truck driver whom they kidnapped and threatened to behead, a Philippine official said Saturday.

The release of Angelo de la Cruz comes as the Philippines announced that its 50 troops in Iraq would leave as scheduled next month.

Philippine Labor Secretary Patricia Santo Tomas said on TV that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo informed the hostage's wife that her husband was on his way to a hotel in Baghdad.

But Tell Us How You Really Feel, Helen!

An 83 yr old woman with bigger testicles than any man in the WH press corps:

Hearst News Service columnist Helen Thomas has unambiguous feelings about the Bush administration.

"This government lies," she said Wednesday to editors, reporters and interns from The Indianapolis Star.

As for the Bush administration's claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, one of the key arguments for going to war against Saddam Hussein, Thomas had one word: "Baloney."

"I think we have a government that absolutely is ignoring the truth and a press that is ignoring the truth," she said during a luncheon at the Downtown Radisson Hotel.

DearMary.Com: To Out Gay DC Staffers?

It reads like an ominous threat: "For Years Our Silence Has Protected You. Today That Protection Ends."

The Washington Blade, the area's gay weekly newspaper, today is running a full-page ad, titled "Final Call to Conscience," that helps fuel anxiety on Capitol Hill involving what local gay rights activists call an "outing craze" over the past two weeks.

The $1,400 color ad -- paid for by the Web site DearMary.com (Mary as in Mary Cheney, Vice President Cheney's openly gay daughter) -- is similar to "Call to Conscience," an ad that ran in the Blade in 1996 when Congress was deliberating the Defense of Marriage Act. John Aravosis, national co-chairman of DearMary.com, said yesterday that as with the previous ad, this one seeks to highlight the "hyprocrisy within gays and lesbians on the Hill who work for anti-gay members of Congress."
Just not sure how I feel about this.

I'm not sure any possible good will outweigh the much more likely harm. It seems to be what the hate groups are willing to do, including the RNC, whose most recent Bush-Cheney ad attacks Kerry for not voting for the Laci Peterson legislation which is just another backdoor way of giving a fetus equal or increased status against that of mother.

To me, a far more plausible issue here is that so many of these "great men of conscience" on the Hill who are willing to push the gay marriage discrimination amendment are people who respect the sanctity of marriage so much, they're often involved with multiple women during their one sanctioned marriage, while others show their honor of marriage by having 3-4-5 divorces under their belts.

Read, Damn You!

As a person who makes her living writing for publishers, all I can say is uh oh:

The reading of books is on the decline in America, despite Harry Potter and the best efforts of Oprah Winfrey.

A report released Thursday by the National Endowment for the Arts says the number of non-reading adults increased by more than 17 million between 1992 and 2002.

Only 47 percent of American adults read "literature" (poems, plays, narrative fiction) in 2002, a drop of 7 points from a decade earlier. Those reading any book at all in 2002 fell to 57 percent, down from 61 percent.

NEA chairman Dana Gioia, himself a poet, called the findings shocking and a reason for grave concern.

"We have a lot of functionally literate people who are no longer engaged readers," Gioia said in an interview with The Associated Press. "This isn't a case of 'Johnny Can't Read,' but 'Johnny Won't Read.'"

"Kenny Boy Lay Who?"

This after the President sulkily beat ass out of a press conference when reporters began to ask about Ken Lay, Enron, and the president's relationship with him:

The White House is trying to put at least an arm's length between President Bush and indicted Enron executive Kenneth Lay, a campaign benefactor Bush nicknamed "Kenny Boy" when the two were up-and-comers in Texas.

It has been "quite some time" since Bush and Lay talked with each other, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday, brushing off questions about whether the two were friends.

"He was a supporter in the past and he's someone that I would also point out has certainly supported Democrats and Republicans in the past," McClellan said.


Repeat After Me: the President Should Not Be Referred to as a Chimp

[Ed. note: I never understood the comments calling him a chimp anyway. I mean, they're disrespectful.And almost all of us have seen, met, or spoken with chimps with far more native intelligence, patience, and command of the English language.]

From many sources today, including BushIsNotaChimp.org, comes word that a group called Monkeywire is refuting any attempts to link the president to a chimp. Gotcha.

Stories the TV Media Didn't Manage to Cover Today

The list is pretty long, so let's just cover some quickies but thickies:

    * The Hague saying the great separating wall being built by Israel is illegal and must be removed; unfortunately, the decision is non-binding
    * The whole thing about the dog in the microfiche room eating Bush's proof of military service (but not those papers saying why he left prematurely but aren't allowed to see)
    * Much about the continuing Mess o' Mesopotamia
    * How the House defeated any scaling back of the Patriot Act yesterday
    * How many 9/11 families are protesting the commenced building of the Freedom Tower
    * Any deep analysis of Tom Ridge's warning "that threatens democracy and the November election)

A Note from One Texan to Another

President George W. Bush may have some sage wisdom to share with Lance Armstrong who's out of the lead in the (de)Tour de France:

Hey Bikey (like my nickname for you?),

I hear you're havin' a tough time with that bike race (no offense, but just how gay does that sound consider' we're both good Texas boys?), so I wanted to offer ya some assistance in turning the Tour de Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys into the Tour de Don't Mess with Texas Force!

If things start lookin' bleak, I'll call up Billy Boy Rehnquist and Noni Scalia and they'll decide the race for ya. If all else fails, we got some MOABs left over from bombin' Saddam that we can send down over France. Don't worry. If any of them little cry babies start in, we'll tell 'em we had good intelligence that Osama's hidin' in Cannes or somethin'.

But hey, when you come by the imperial palace.. er.. White House for the ceremony, you gotta promise you won't wear those little bike shorts. They look kinda gay, like I said, and they'll get Rick Santorum all worked up about man-and-dog sex again. Can't have that!

Oh yeah, and about that "steroid" charge they keep talking about with you? Here's the deal. You just tell 'em your drug reports are on microfiche and they accidentally got destroyed. Works like a charm.

Yours in Texaco

How Low is President Bush's Opinion of Islam?

From John at AmericaBlog:

I have half a mind to believe the White House leaked this story to show the American Taliban that he was still their boy, come this November:
    Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, says he is concerned about the growth of the Muslim faith in the United States. But he emphasizes he is not concerned about President Bush's frequent references to Islam as a 'religion of peace' that has simply been hijacked by a radical fringe.

    'I can say with certainty that [the president] knows what the real score is,' Weyrich says. 'He feels he has to say these things -- and maybe if you and I were president, we'd have to do the same thing.'

    Weyrich says if the president actually declared that America is in a war against Islam, there might be more Muslims taking up arms against the U.S. -- a 'real jihad,' as he puts it. So Bush, according to Weyrich, is soft-peddling his rhetoric in order to 'tamp down' any worldwide activity that might occur.

    'I know the president has to say certain things -- and I understand that,' the conservative icon says, 'but I also know that he doesn't believe it.'
Funny, but I think Bush already instigated that "real jihad."

I'm Glad We Stabilized Arab Countries Or You Could See Things Like the Whole Egyptian Cabinet Resigning


Egypt's prime minister and entire cabinet resigned Friday as President Hosni Mubarak launched a major reshuffle of the government.

...The cabinet's resignation, which had been expected for some time, came amid growing calls for Mubarak, Egypt's major powerbroker, to undertake major reforms of the Arab country's political, economic and social landscape.

Bruce bin Laden

Actually, that's not his first name - which I didn't manage to catch - but Matt Lauer is interviewing one of Osama's 37 1/2 half brothers on Dateline tonight to refute Fahrenheit 911 claims.

Really? Isn't it nice that the bin Laden family is so concerned about George Bush that they'd refute that part.

From what I could tell, that's really all Matt - the floor under whom he was wiped up by Michael Moore during a recent interview - was interested in. Oh yes, and whether "Bruce" would turn in his infamous half brother if he knew where Osama was. (The answer seems to be no, btw.)

Tom Ridge Terror Alert Warning Better Explained

This time, by Tresy at Corrente, who writes:

If we fail to keep you from getting killed between now and November, it will mean that we are winning the war on terror and deserve re-election.

The Dean v. Nader Debate and Webcast

Did anyone catch it here? I did not (my ungrateful family insisted on being fed which involved a trip to the grocery store two towns away), and I'd love to hear any useful feedback.

Courtney Love, Almost as Dysfunctional as Our President

For her 40th birthday today, she got a bench warrant sworn out for her in failing to appear for a court date. If only she had been born into the privileged Bush family, some judge would have just opened up the earth in order to swallow the records.

A Happy Lottery Story

I'm neither a player nor attention payer to the lottery programs in the country, feeling like they're an uncomfortable entry to legalized gambling.

But last night I got delightful news: the middle-aged couple who run the local general store won $500K in Powerball. You'd have to visit one of the two stores they own (named for their dead son, Derek) to see why I'm so happy for them. They work tireless hours, and are always trying to tweak their stores to make them more useful to their customers. They always greet you with a smile, and if you need something they don't stock (like the name of a good plumber, a source for this or that), they'll help you find it. They're happy to engage in discussion about that day's political or war news, yet you never hear a cross or unflattering word from any of them.

Last summer, when I was ill, they were always inquiring about my health. In fact, from practically the day I moved here four years ago and started frequenting their store, they treated me like a fond neighbor, as they seem to do with everyone else.

You'll often find their adult daughter - along with her children - working in the store, and she's every bit as nice as they are. And all their clerks speak highly of the owners, not something you hear everyday.

As you might expect, their plans for the money aren't fancy. They intend to improve their stores, maybe augment their inventory a bit, and maybe take a fishing trip. They love doing things with their grandchildren, and this may give them more flexibility to do this.

For me, this has just been one of those really nice stories that puts a smile on your face. These are people who clearly have never expected to have anything more than what they managed to provide themselves, and I don't think their new-found largesse will change that.

Any Possibility Saddam is Innocent in the Legal Sense?

Diana at Democracy for California has a thought-provoking post up. I'm still mulling it over but I encourage some of you to read it. In part:

Forget about all the talking points that dance above the question like sparks leaping from a camp fire, there is only one seminal truth powerful enough to bring George W. Bush and his cabal down. That truth is the innocence of Saddam. I'm not speaking of moral innocence, which I'll leave for God to judge, I'm speaking of innocence under the law.

As the case against Saddam moves from the court of public opinion to the court of law, bringing more and more facts into the light of public scrutiny, there is, ironically, a powerful blowback effect building against Bush, ripping at the very foundations many on the Right still use to justify the war, and many on the Left blithely ignore.

A case in point is the charges read against Saddam Hussein in the recent hearing, that of "killing his own people," i.e., gassing the Kurds, a widely believed accusation both Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. effectively used to stir public opinion against Saddam, and which forms the core premise upon which the Neocons have built their entire case for war. This construct can be completely blown apart by one key witness.

According to an article in yahoo news today, a top CIA official who was in charge of the investigation of the Kurdish massacre has produced evidence that Saddam Hussein was not responsible, and indicated that it was the work of Iranians.

Senate Blames CIA for Iraq Failures

Wow, another just huge surprise. (yawn)

Regardless of what side of the political fence you're on, and regardless of whether you're pro or anti war, doesn't it strike you as strange that a) the CIA rather than the WH and cabinet decision makers always take the blame and b) that they turn around and tell us to believe the CIA on every point.

No heads have rolled except Tenet's, and that head wasn't exactly on the chopping block. I suspect Bush would have happily kept him on as designated target for some time.

Coalition Death Toll

As Reader CK noted in comments yesterday, the coalition death toll for both Iraq and Afghanistan are of course much higher than just the US death toll in Iraq (873 at last count, and I do wonder how many are kept off the list to keep the number lower). However, the coalition death toll in Iraq alone has now passed 1,000 (1,002 to be precise).

Oh Those Bush Military Records

The fine folks at Corrente have some good takes on this mucked-up microfiche, starting here. But Lambert also points out:

Maybe we can't resolve, through payroll records, whether Bush did, in fact, fulfill his legal obligations to serve.

But perhaps we can resolve why he was grounded. And to resolve this, Bush just needs to authorize the release of the sixty pages that have been withheld, so far. Why on earth would Bush let this issue fester? I just can't understand....

Billionaires for Bush!

Go see. Government of, by and for corporations.

"Women Should Be Submissive"

WASHINGTON -- Reading from the Bible on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch endorsed a federal judicial nominee who wrote that wives should have a subordinate role in marriage, with the Utah Republican emphasizing "millions and millions of people will agree with" that view.
In a preview of the religious rhetoric that will likely dominate next week's scheduled Senate debate over a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Hatch led the fight for confirming Arkansas lawyer J. Leon Holmes to the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas.
In the words of a great American, Dick Cheney: "Go fuck yourself", Orrin.

Enron's Spiritual Leader

As you read this from The Times, wouldn't you find it interesting if Kenny Boy really was the great man he says he is, perhaps by revealing to us what Bush, Schwarzenegger and others knew and did about the California energy crisis, how much of a role Lay did play in the Bush White House until the end of 2001, etc?

When President Bush was elected, there was much speculation about whether his top corporate sponsor, Kenneth Lay of Enron, would end up as secretary of the Treasury or the Department of Energy. Mr. Lay stayed in the private sector, enjoying the best of both worlds: corporate pay and the ability to make policy as part of Dick Cheney's energy task force.

Those were the days. Now Mr. Lay, the former chairman and chief executive of Enron, the once-imposing energy trader, is trying to portray his ties with the Bush dynasty as a liability. Indicted on charges of participating in a fraud conspiracy that led to Enron's bankruptcy, Mr. Lay emerged from his arraignment yesterday and held a bizarre news conference, where he proclaimed his innocence. He also said that given his history with President Bush, it would have taken far more courage for prosecutors not to indict him.

Mr. Lay is certainly entitled to a fair trial with open-minded jurors. But the idea that he is somehow the victim of a politicized prosecution is belied by the facts of the case.

Which is it? Health Care for Americans or Bigger Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest

Gee... which is better, which is better? From Paul Krugman's column today:

Will actual policy issues play any role in this election? Not if the White House can help it. But if some policy substance does manage to be heard over the clanging of conveniently timed terror alerts, voters will realize that they face some stark choices. Here's one of them: tax cuts for the very well-off versus health insurance.

John Kerry has proposed an ambitious health care plan that would extend coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, while reducing premiums for the insured. To pay for that plan, Mr. Kerry wants to rescind recent tax cuts for the roughly 3 percent of the population with incomes above $200,000.

Pentagon: Oops, the President's Service Records Were All Destroyed

I'll let this stink for itself:

HOUSTON, July 8 - Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.

It said the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.

The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.

The disclosure appeared to catch some experts, both pro-Bush and con, by surprise. Even the retired lieutenant colonel who studied Mr. Bush's records for the White House, Albert C. Lloyd of Austin, said it came as news to him.

The loss was announced by the Defense Department's Office of Freedom of Information and Security Review in letters to The New York Times and other news organizations that for nearly half a year have sought Mr. Bush's complete service file under the open-records law.

There was no mention of the loss, for example, when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February in an effort to stem Democratic accusations that he was "AWOL" for a time during his commitment to fly at home in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

(de)Tour de France

Ah, my heart is skipping a few beats. The local sportscaster just told me our boy, Lance, has lost his lead in the bicycle ride, but assured us that we should not any under circumstances stay up tonight concerned because Lance, a Texan, would overcome this hardship.

Well, gosh, I dunno. I really was planning to lose a whole night of sleep over whether Lance can make another 25 mill in product endorsements this month for winning again. Or perhaps I should just stay up every night throughout this race in homage to this brave Texan who has never had a real job in his life (which, based on the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania seems to make for a trend).

BTW, what's with pro biker costumes? All of them looked like they were designed by an angry, hateful, drug-addicted sadist who decided to dream up a way to make people very confused about their sexuality while wearing very embarrassing outfits.


Tom Ridge - Homeland Security Wrapup

Jon Stewart boils today's press conference down to all you need to know:

    * Be so afraid for your security that you don't risk voting for John Kerry;
    * But don't be so afraid that you don't vote for George Bush

One More Soldier Dead - Two Bulgarians Taken Hostage

The death count in Samarra has risen from 4 US soldiers to 5, while an Iraqi guardsman also died.

Elsewhere, insurgents have taken two Bulgarians hostage, and are threatening them with death and beheading.

I Was Wrong: Ken Lay Did Do the Perp Walk

And to his credit, he did nothing to hide the handcuffs on his wrists. But, of course, whether that decision was his or Karl Rove's, I cannot say.

See the Beauty of the Rainbow

I'm downloading mine now (see below). Planned Parenthood, IMHO, is an excellent group that does far more than abortion planning. They provide a myriad of GYN related health care and education to women on a sliding scale basis. In my 20s, I would never have gotten routine PAP smears, full breast exams, and other care had it not been for their low fees. Now I try to support them financially each month, because even though financial times are very tough, so too is the fight being waged against Planned Parenthood and the women of this country.

From John at AmericaBlog:

Planned Parenthood just launched a campaign this afternoon for all Americans to put up rainbow flags in their windows, cars, offices, and everywhere else they like to show opposition to the anti-gay constitutional amendment, and to show solidarity with the LGBT community. It's called "Flags Across America," and I urge everyone to visit the site and download a rainbow flag.

Full disclosure: Planned Parenthood is one of my clients, and I helped them with this campaign, and am proud to have done so. It's high time we "progressives" started helping each other out more and working together as a larger community of common interests, and in this campaign, Planned Parenthood is doing just that. (You can also contact Congress via their site as well).

Please visit the main "Flags Across America" home page, and make sure you download a flag and tell your friends about this campaign!

The Clinton Bashers Included Hillary?

NBC, for one of its nitwit entertainment shows, keeps advertising a promo that goes like, "We're on the spot when former President Bill Clinton answers charges made by an exclusive, blockbuster new Hillary book which alleges Clinton was a battered husband."


Now, in my life, I have seen women who could be every bit as physically aggressive as any male. They'd grab and slap and punch like there weren't people around watching this.

But why is it this seems likely unlikely with the Clintons?

And then the NBC crap added, "Were Bill and Hillary involved in a massive conspiracy to take over American government?"

Oh come on. Is Matt Drudge writing their headlines? You'd normally have to go that low to hear something like that... and I've seen snakes stand much taller than Matt.

"Edwards as the Anti-Cheney"

Kash at Angry Bear makes a good point I haven't seen expressed this well before:

One of the reasons I like Edwards so much as Kerry’s pick for VP is that he makes the perfect anti-Cheney. The way in which this is most obvious is probably in the careers outside of politics that each had. Edwards was a lawyer who spent much of his time and energy winning lawsuits against corporations, punishing them for their misdeeds... On the other hand, Cheney was running a major corporation, presiding over that company's misdeeds.

I’m not arguing that all lawsuits are good. Of course many of the lawsuits filed every year in the US are frivolous and problematic. In some cases they entail negative externalities for others, such as higher insurance rates. However, the ability of the individual to sue a company when it has been negligent or deceitful is one of the few – and arguably most powerful – tools that any single person has to fight back against a large corporation when they do something wrong.

Just as not all lawsuits are good, I should stress that not all corporations are bad, of course. But some of the individuals making decisions within a corporation can be venal, greedy, corrupt, incompetent, callous, or careless in ways that can cause serious harm to individuals. So it’s important to have some check on their power, and thus to help maintain a balance between individuals and corporations. To me, Edwards represents exactly that ability to check the power of corporations, while Cheney represents the corporations.

Tom Delay Hates Our Freedom; Nixes Patriot Act Curbs

The Republican-led House bowed to a White House veto threat Thursday and stood by the USA Patriot Act, defeating an effort to block the part of the anti-terrorism law that helps the government investigate people's reading habits.

The effort to defy Bush and bridle the law's powers lost by 210-210, with a majority needed to prevail. The amendment appeared on its way to victory as the roll call's normal 15-minute time limit expired, but Republican leaders kept the vote open for about 20 more minutes as they persuaded about 10 Republicans who initially supported the provision to change their votes.

The measure had been pushed by a coalition of Democrats and conservative Republicans. But they fell short in a showdown that came just four months before an election in which the conduct of the fight against terrorism will be on the political agenda.

Besides successfully fending off the effort to weaken the law, the veto threat underscored the administration's determination to strike an aggressive stance on law enforcement and terrorism.

Polling Response to Kerry-Edwards Favorable

From Donkey Rising:

A number of polls were released today indicating a positive reaction to Kerry's selection of Edwards as his running mate and suggesting an immediate boost to the Democratic ticket. CBS News, for example, found the Kerry-Edwards ticket besting Bush-Cheney by 5 points (49-44) among RVs, while Kerry alone was leading Bush by only a point (45-44) 10 days ago.

That poll also finds Cheney with a heavily net negative (-20) favorability rating--only 27 percent favorable, compared to 47 percent unfavorable. Edwards is not rated by many respondents but those who do view him favorably by about the same margin ((38 percent favorable/9 percent unfavorable, for a +19 net rating) that Cheney is viewed unfavorably.

Even more impressive, in NBC News' overnight poll, Kerry-Edwards leads Bush-Cheney by 11 points (54-43). Moreover, 24 percent day Edwards' selection makes them more likely to vote for Kerry, compared to just 7 percent who say that selection makes them less likely.

Could Edwards be president? The public thinks so, even if Bush ("Cheney can be president, next") does not. By 45 percent to 38 percent, voters pick Edwards over Cheney as the one who do the better job running the country. And, by 49 percent to 28 percent, voters pick Edwards over Cheney as one who is more optimistic about the future of the country.
And this considering the GOP has had ALL its heavy hitters out to denounce Edwards, saying "trial lawyer" with great venom.

Question: If This Terror Threat is So Real, Why No Change to the Threat Index?

I mean, it's obvious that assinine color coded threat system is a bogus piece of doggy dung, but this latest measure really strains credibility, no?

Or maybe they'd like to keep people scared and voting for George (Bomb 'Em if You Got 'Em) Bush. Now, if only our military weren't so out of country, overtaxed, underpaid, and actually had bullets.

Bush to NAACP: You Are Not Worthy

I think this speaks for itself, don't you?

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) -- President Bush declined an invitation to speak at the NAACP's annual convention, the group said.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People expects more than 8,000 people to attend the convention, which opens on Saturday.

Democratic challenger John Kerry accepted an invitation to speak next Thursday on the final day of the convention, the NAACP said.

Bush spoke at the 2000 NAACP convention in Baltimore when he was running for president.

NAACP spokesman John White said Wednesday that Bush has declined invitations in each year of his presidency -- becoming the first president since Herbert Hoover not to attend an NAACP convention.

GOP Survivor: New Installment Posted

If you haven't caught the DCCC's tongue-in-cartoon-cheek rendition of Survival, GOP style, you should. It's funny regardless of your politics (although I'm sure Condi Rice would not approve. You can find it here.

Help 10,000 People Register to Vote in a Single Hour This Sunday

MoveOn wants your help, and the cause is most worthy:

Pundits say that we live in a closely divided nation. If you look at elections, that's true. Yet wide majorities of Americans share our values: fair wages, great public schools, a healthy environment.

What do we need to do move things in our direction? There's a simple place to start--we need to make sure everyone registers to vote.

And this Sunday, we're going to get started. We'll register as many as 10,000 voters in one shot, helping to beat Bush in the bargain. More than 6,000 MoveOn members will be calling voters in key election states and registering them. Will you help us? To join a phone party near you, click here.

It'll be fun--you'll get to meet other local MoveOn members, and all you need to bring is a cell phone to make your calls on, plus several stamped envelopes to send forms to the people you call. And since we're calling on the weekend, most cell phone calls will be free.

We'll provide everything else. You'll call unregistered voters for an hour or two, help them fill out the voter registration form over the phone, then mail it to them to sign and send in. This is a great way to bring new voters into the process, and a big step toward winning back the White House.

If there's no party near you, or even if there is but you want to call with your friends, you can hold your own party. Just set it up on our website, decide whether other MoveOn members can sign up and pick a maximum number of participants, and we'll give you all the information and tools you need—lists of voters, a script to read, voter registration forms, and a way to send the results back in easily.

Many people register when they get a drivers' license, but it's a huge project to track down those who don't and persuade them to register. But remember Florida in 2000--with a margin of only 537 votes, each registration is a big step forward.

It's incredibly important, but we can't do it without you. Sign up now.

Is Osama Supposed to Be Killed or Captured During the Dem Convention?

That's what this article in The New Republic, pointed out to us by Buzzflash, seems to imply. And this, of course, raises the question that if they could target him during one specific period, why has Mr. Bush let Osama walk about for just shy of three years?

Hell, while I would love to see him captured and stand trial (I know, ridiculous notion I have that people are innocent until proven guilty), I suspect the circumstances may add up against us if we do kill or capture Osama now. It would be a potent symbol to the extremists who would respond in kind.

Five Killed in Mortar Attack in Samarra

CNN reports this involved four soldiers and one Iraqi. This drives up the acknowledged US combat toll to 872 (God knows how many more).

Tom Ridge Says, "You're Not Scared Enough People"

After all, you've been disrespecting der leader in polls and going out to see Fahrenheit 911, plus you keep talking about upsetting Bush-Cheney in November. So big Tom (on CNN) has some words for you:

Al Qaeda plans a large-scale attack on the United States "in an effort to disrupt the democratic process" before November's elections, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today. Ridge said U.S. officials have no precise knowledge of the time, place or method of attack, but said they are "actively working to gain that knowledge."

Home of Iraqi PM Allawi Attacked

The home of the Iraqi Prime Minister has been attacked by mortar rounds. The attacks on a stretch of Zeitoun Street in central Baghdad hit near a house owned by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, an official said. Allawi was not present at the home at the time. Four mortar rounds also rocked a neighborhood near Allawi's political party headquarters, injuring six people, the Interior Ministry official said. Eralier in the day it was reported that three blasts hit Baghdad and wisps of smoke were seen billowing from the Green Zone compound that houses Iraqi government offices and the US and British embassies, witnesses said.
Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.

The Corruption We Exerted, Forced Upon Iraq

From the Los Angeles Times:

A senior Defense Department official conducted unauthorized investigations of Iraq reconstruction efforts and used their results to push for lucrative contracts for friends and their business clients, according to current and former Pentagon officials and documents.

John A. "Jack" Shaw, deputy undersecretary for international technology security, represented himself as an agent of the Pentagon's inspector general in conducting the investigations, sources said.

In one case, Shaw disguised himself as an employee of Halliburton Co. and gained access to a port in southern Iraq after he was denied entry by the U.S. military, the sources said.

In that investigation, Shaw found problems with operations at the port of Umm al Qasr, Pentagon sources said. In another, he criticized a competition sponsored by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority to award cellphone licenses in Iraq.

In both cases, Shaw urged government officials to fix the alleged problems by directing multimillion-dollar contracts to companies linked to his friends, without competitive bidding, according to the Pentagon sources and documents. In the case of the port, the clients of a lobbyist friend won a no-bid contract for dredging.

Shaw's actions are the latest to raise concerns that senior Republican officials working in Washington and Iraq have used the rebuilding effort in Iraq to reward associates and political allies. One of Shaw's close friends, the former top U.S. transportation official in Iraq, is under investigation for his role in promoting an Iraqi national airline with a company linked to the Saddam Hussein regime.
Ask me again, "Why do they hate us?"

Former Iraq Czar Paul Bremer Desperately Out of Touch with Iraqis

From the American News of Aberdeen:

Before he skipped town, America's viceroy in Baghdad, Ambassador Paul Bremer III, had this pronouncement about the people who have been his subjects for the last year or so.

''You won't find more than 2 percent of all Iraqis,'' he told the New York Times, ''for all their complaints they're making now, who think it would have been better if we had never come.''

Perhaps Bremer should have said ''2 percent of the Iraqis I talk to.'' The feelings of Iraqis are clearly a mystery to the departed occupation boss.

A majority of Iraqis, nearly 60 percent, now feel it was wrong that the U.S.-led coalition forces invaded Iraq, according to a recent poll. Back in February, nearly that number felt the invasion was right. That reversal does not mean, opinion poll experts point out, that Iraqis are unhappy Saddam Hussein is gone. But it does reflect the deep despair, even anger, over the United States occupation and Iraqi eagerness for Americans to leave.

Panels to Review Detainees at Gitmo

Also from CNN:

Review panels will decide on a case-by-case basis whether detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are being held legally, Pentagon officials say. The panels are being created in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that said enemy combatants at Guantanamo had the right to use federal courts to challenge their detentions.
Ah, but who are the members of these panels? Were they created as another "here are the results we intend you to report" effort by the Bushies? More ass covering or yes men?

Palestinians Killed in Gaza Clashes

CNN is reporting at least 10 dead and yet, on the same page, it seems mystified that PM Ariel Sharon is receiving death threats.

I stand by my assertion from early on that Sharon's reappointment in Israel was every bit as bad for his people and for the world as a whole as George W. Bush's was here. These two men do not know the meaning of peace or shalom. And while I'd happily include Arafat in this mix, Sharon and Bush have spent so long pretending Arafat no longer exists that it's difficult to summon up his name.

Oops... for Those Who Actually Care About the Tour de Lance France

I happened upon this blog which looks fairly decent - and for more reason than that they link to my snarky Lance post.

Tell me again why my tax dollars have to go to support Lance Armstrong's race? If you say, "Because he's from Texas," I'll be most unhappy. And there's something just strangely pathetic about the snail mail people sponsoring a speed team.

Basta, Por Favor

It's 2:17 AM, I have a proposal due first thing in the morning which is incomplete and another due in the afternoon whose revisions I've not yet started.

In the words of George H.W. Bush to the Kurds after he got them to go against Saddam, "I'm oudda here."

P.S. Got anything for a raging headache? Ibuprofen and bubblegum aren't touching it.

Admission of Guilt: Toppling of Saddam's Statue

Remember that? The Great Moment of the Iraq War when seemingly by magic, American troops helped the people of Irag topple Saddam's statue.

Only we found out soon thereafter - although the mainstream media tries hard not to acknowledge it - that this was an event staged by Ahmed Chalabi upon his arrival on a Pentagon flight.

Ah, but there's more. The Army now admits they were really the orchestrators of the event as a sort of ad hoc PsyOps bit of theater designed to change hearts and minds. When Keith Olbermann asked on "Countdown" tonight why the Army had to lie to reporters such as him who specifically asked if this were dreamed up, he was basically told that the press is the enemy of the Army (as is, would one imagine, George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld who cannot supply the Army with bullets and radios and such).

We should just make a list of what is NOT theater with these people. It would be a far shorter list.

Fahrenheit 911: The Transcript

Posted around the blogworld tonight, including at Skippy's, Atrios, and Daily Kos, is a (I believe unofficial) transcript of the movie.

Sticking it to Cuba

If the US keeps up its actions, Fidel Castro will live to age 145 just to frustrate idiotic American presidents. He's doing a bang-up job, too. Without our efforts, Cuba might have gotten rid of him 35 years ago.

Posted by pie on Atrios:

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A caravan of vehicles carrying 100 tons of goods crossed into Mexico from Texas on Wednesday bound for Cuba in a show of civil disobedience toward the U.S. embargo of the communist-run island.

Congress: Pentagon is Pushing Reserves Past Breaking Point

Gosh. Did they just realize this? We've been hearing this since before we attacked Afghanistan, when we were calling up reserves and the guards to watch the airports.

Imagine what the unemployment rate will look like when a lot of these folks return to this country, their medical needs unpaid for, no longer welcome in the jobs or businesses they left? And considering what they've been through, even if they have an intact family, employment, and physical health, what about the mental adjustment?

I know, I know. I'm just a bleeding heart liberal. As Rep. David Drier (Oink, California) said the other night on Hardball, "These people made their choice. They have to stand by it."

Or as I'd say it, "Mr. Bush made this choice, now everyone else including these people must struggle to meet it while Mr. Bush campaigns and vacations."

Does anyone ask the question, "What happens if we get involved in a legitimate war at some point, after expending everything we have on two questionable ones? Who will fight that one? Denny Hastert and Rush Limbaugh?"

What About Kerry-Edwards-Sharapova?

Imagine it. This could be just the thing the Dems need to put them over the top. A young woman who aced Wimbledon, making even a contest against one of the ultra-powerful Williams' sister appear effortless. Next to Maria Sharapova, Edwards looks like a youthful senior citizen and she could soften the edge off ol Treebeard ... er... John Kerry.

Promise her National Security Advisor. She doesn't make anywhere near the scary faces Condi does, and this teenager can't HELP but do a much better job than Dr. Rice. I don't know how fluent she is, but Sharapova must speak better English than Mr. Bush. It's a win-win situation, and increases the youth vote.


"Michael Moore Hates America"

The Daily Show has a spot tonight on Mike Wilson, the rather dubious fellow who has been making the above-referenced film for quite awhile, with the severe nut chapter of the right-wing all crying foul because Michael Moore won't actually sit down and talk with poor Mike Wilson.

They also had a hilarious bit with Michael Moore in the spot. But the funny thing is that so many are championing poor Mike Wilson, who can't even make his own project sound interesting (I've heard him interviewed a few times). It's clear his project is just some hack job being underwritten by people you wouldn't want near your young children or puppies. So let Mike (Wilson, not Moore) run about in his "USA" t-shirt and act confused by big words and simple directions. I can only suspect his movie isn't very good either.

"Suck It"

That's what Jon Stewart says is the message on the Bush White House welcome mat. We believe it, too! I'm sure the taxpayers paid for it, as well.

Do Journalists Have a Good Reason for Anger Over Fahrenheit 911?

From Skippy (who also reports that Ronald Reagan is still dead:

the latimes has a wonderful op-ed piece by neal gabler, who points out that the main reason the press is taking shots at fahrenheit 911, is not because it's slanted propaganda against awol, but because it rightly points out what a lousy job the journalists themselves have been doing lately.
    "Fahrenheit 9/11" may have an altogether different effect: a change in the practice and the values of journalism. What Moore and the film have done is take dead aim on one of the most sacred of journalistic shibboleths: the idea that journalists are supposed to be fair and balanced. This isn't just a function of Moore having a point of view to push; there have always been provocateurs. Rather it is a function of the film revealing the harm that balance has done to our public discourse and the distortions it has promoted.
I was also pleased to read that Michael Moore says he may be open to the idea of legal downloads of his film over the Internet. He said he's made sufficient money and that he'd rather more people see it, so he's considering the concept.

Good for him.

Ha! In NBC Poll, Edwards Way Ahead of Cheney as Prez Material

The pair, Kerry-Edwards, are 8 pts ahead of Bush-Cheney in this poll, with Edwards himself 7 pts ahead of Dick Cheney who has held the post for 4 years.

From what I've read, there are a great many Republicans, conservatives, and just generally decent people who have serious qualms about Mr. Cheney, his views on secrecy and limitless power for the president, and his connections with companies like Halliburton getting no-bid contracts that deliver less than promised at a much higher price than estimated.

One More Thing on Getting Lay-ed...

Watch the president, when asked tomorrow or whenever about the surrender of Ken Lay, blink a couple of times and pretend to have trouble placing his name, an odd thing he's done before even though the two men have vacationed together several times, Lay funded Bush's 2nd governor's term and presidential run, George used to write him personal birthday cards, etc.

Justice De-Lay-ed and Defeated

Forgive me if I don't cheer about the "capture" of the former Enron head, because:

    * We would get dragged from our homes in front of neighbors, he'll "present" himself sometime tomorrow to a Houston PD - y'know, whenever it's convenient for him

    * Probably won't be a perp walk

    * He'll be out on bail before the fingerprint ink is dry

    * Nothing major will happen to him because he knows too many dirty secrets this WH does not want us to know; sometime after Election 2004, we'll see most of the charges dropped if not before

    * This case isn't about justice; it's about Bush getting elected for the first time
Justice indeed.

We Need Bake Sales to Buy Equipment for Our Troops?

So if the huge amount of money being paid to the Pentagon (well more than $500 billion a year, unprecedented) is not funding our troops with things like working radios, Kevlar vests, and little unimportant supplies like bullets and food (!!!), what IS IT being spent on?

Read this.

Dead Bodies Found on Sam Donaldson's Ranch

Boy, that's going to put his toupe in a swirl!

Considering what journalistic ethics are in play now, ABC may let Sam report on it.

Don't laugh. NBC is allowing Andrea Mitchell to comment extensively on the political race now, which seems like a real conflict considering Andrea's hubby (Greenspan) serves at the pleasure of Bush. And - wow, what a surprise - she's snarkier about the Dems. And MSNBC sometimes uses Rep. David Drier (R-CA) as a guest host, when he's rabidly partisan and I believe heads up Bush's California campaign (I know he was involved with The Arnold).

Lance Armstrong, His Bike, and the Tour de France

Somebody in the little local store today had on a T-shirt that said something like, "Support Lance Armstrong, a true American patriot", which I suppose refers to his current competition in the Tour de France.

Exactly what makes Armstrong a great American or patriot? Riding his bike? And must we really get hop-up-and-down excited about his sixth entry? It's a bike ride, for cryin' out loud. I hope someone else wins it for a change. Lance has to be a very wealthy man from all this product endorsements (Big Pharma is GOOD!) and it would be nice to see another athlete (well, if bowlers and golfers can be athletes, I suppose Lance can be one, too) get a shot at making his or her dreams come true. Lance isn't the only person in the world who's ever overcome an obstacle to win, and many folks do it with far less pomp and profit.

So, if you'll excuse me, I'll keep the pom-poms in storage.

Editors Nipping at My Heels

Sorry for the relatively light posting. I've got editors in search of proposals and revisions nipping at my heels. Editors are _always_ in a hurry on their end, but when you're the one waiting, molasses in Vermont in January moves far faster.

I'll probably post more tonight, although the mainstream media is paying attention to just three stories: 1) Kerry selecting Edwards (with the mainstreams jumping on all the GOP talking pts to demean the Dem ticket), 2) James Doohan of "Scottie"/Star Trek fame has Alzheimer's (I love him, I really do, and I couldn't be sorrier about his joint illnesses, but I'm amazed this is a top story today), and 3) When will Amber Frey testify in Scott Peterson's trial for the murder of his wife, Laci. In other words, there apparently is NO news. Have heard barely a peep about the Israeli look at the settlements, what it will mean for the formerly captive Marine now saying he's free in Lebanon (I have a terrible feeling that his horror is just beginning), about how the Britains are still raging about the war, Blair, and the BBC, as well as nothing about serious issues in Iraq.

Ah, well, so long as we can worry about the important things like Paris Hilton and Madonna.

Missing Marine Held Captive Says He's in Lebanon

CNN is reporting the missing and formerly captive Marine (of Lebanese descent) held by an Iraqi insurgent group has called home to say he's safe, free, and now in Lebanon.

What the Hell is Going on with John McCain?

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain often gets credit for being a maverick, a man willing to cut through the crap to get to the heart of an important issue regardless of party lines. He's made it rather clear at times that he thinks George Bush has mismanaged the war - and more. At times, in fact, he's seemed to ridicule the president.

So why now is John stepping up to be used as the whore d'jour of the GOP propaganda machine, appearing with Bush, spewing out the exact rhetoric he'd mocked more than once, to help Bush get re-elected. It's not like the cast of characters in ReElect Bush have changed. Karl Rove, the man who set out to destroy competitor McCain during the 2000 GOP primaries, is right there.

As I wrote yesterday, that's why I was very concerned to see any discussion of putting up McCain as the Democratic VP pick. McCain has pulled this kind of thing before, and it negates - at least to reasoning people - his reputation as someone to whom his constituents matter more than politics. But I also think most of the talk about McCain was orchestrated by McCain himself. I don't remember John Kerry heralding him. Shy of evidence to the contrary, I think McCain initiated much of this and then used it to buy something from the Bushies.

Bush Down in Hispanic Polling

From Gallup:

PRINCETON, NJ -- A new Gallup survey, which includes large oversamples of blacks and Hispanics, finds President George W. Bush losing the support of Hispanic voters. In the 2000 election, former Vice President Al Gore easily won the Hispanic vote, 62% to 35%, according to the networks' exit poll. But early in his presidency, Bush seemed to overcome the Democratic tendency of most Hispanics, receiving job approval ratings from that group at the same level as from non-Hispanic whites.

In the past year, Bush's job approval rating among Hispanics dropped significantly, while approval from whites declined only modestly. Now, more Hispanics disapprove than approve of Bush's performance, and a majority indicate they will vote for Sen. John Kerry and for the Democratic representative in their districts in this fall's elections. Blacks overwhelmingly support the Kerry candidacy, disapprove of Bush, and expect to vote Democratic in their congressional districts. Blacks typically show strong support for Democratic candidates.

The poll was conducted June 9-30, and the sample includes approximately 800 non-Hispanic whites, 800 blacks, and 500 Hispanics. Both the two-way hypothetical contest between Bush and Kerry, and the three-way contest that includes independent Ralph Nader, show a virtual tie overall, with Bush having a one-point lead in each case among registered voters. In the two-way contest, Bush enjoys a 12-point lead over Kerry among whites, 53% to 41%. But among blacks, Kerry wins overwhelmingly (81% to 12%), and among Hispanics he enjoys a 19-point lead (57% to 38%).


Going Down the Poll

A new poll is posted at the top (sorta, minus a few inches) right along with results from the last two polls.

Thank you for all who participated and inflamed nasal hairs for those who did not.

They Don't Like Him Either

Who knows? Maybe they will have better luck than we have. If we keep this up, we'll off the few million residents of Fallujah just not killing Zarqawi.

A previously unknown militant group in Iraq is threatening to kill the most-wanted terror suspect in that country: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya said it received a taped statement from an organization that calls itself the Rescue Group warning al-Zarqawi and his followers to leave Iraq or face the consequences.

One masked militant read a statement denouncing the actions by al-Zarqawi and his followers as hurtful to Iraq, particularly the kidnapping of foreigners.

The group has called for the killing of the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi if he doesn't leave Iraq.

Iraq, Al Qaeda, and Dear, Dear Dick

[Ed note: The use of "Dick" above is not a euphemism for the word "penis." I respect penises (penii?) and do not call people I dislike "Dick". Likewise, I like and respect people, so I don't call penises I dislike "Dick." If you understand this, you have my sincere sympathies.]

Disputing anew an assertion by the Bush administration, the independent commission investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, released a statement Tuesday indicating that it stands by its conclusion that al Qaeda and Iraq had only limited connections.

"After examining available transcripts of [Vice President Dick Cheney's] public remarks, the 9/11 commission believes it has access to the same information the vice president has seen regarding contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq prior to the 9/11 attacks," the commission said in a written statement.

That statement comes in the wake of an interview Cheney gave last month on CNBC. During that interview, Cheney said "we don't know" whether Iraq was involved in the attacks. Asked whether he had information the panel did not, the vice president said, "Probably."

After Cheney's statement on CNBC, the commission asked the vice president to come forward with any additional information he could provide about any ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.

One Cheney aide who spoke on condition of anonymity dismissed Tuesday's commission statement, calling it a "nonstory."
And it was Mr. Cheney's remark, that he "probably" knew more information than the 9/11 panel was of great concern to me. It's not just Dick's usual contempt for everyone not him or Lynne, it's that he didn't bother to tell the truth - let alone the whole truth - to the commission. And absolutely everyone gave him a pass on it. Just like they're still pretty gentle on him considering how often he says Saddam was involved in 9/11, he gets called on it, denies it on a technicality, interviewer goes on to the next thing, and then Cheney says the same damned thing again! And again. And again. It's like listening to William Hung. It's always BAD and you know it's going to be bad, but it's in your face doing it anyway!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go look up statistics on how many people have developed high blood pressure since Bush-Cheney moved into the WH.

Catholic Church: Not All Bankruptcy May Be Financial

With news today that the Portland Diocese will join the roster of churches crying poor in the face of lawsuits stemming from the priest-abuse scandals. Sure, lawsuits can push anyone to the fiscal brink and beyond. But to have dioceses claim bankruptcy when they already enjoy tax exempt status and while money keeps running to Vatican City to fill the vaults and re-gild all that gold and such seems a mite off.

Sure. Vatican City has yet to really acknowledge the scandal in any significant way. They left the American bishops to come up with a plan that really pleased no one for the specific purpose of trying to get the media off the back of the lesser holy trinity: Vatican, Pope, and all that wealth.

It's time for VC to acknowledge the issue. And if they won't do it one way, they can do it another: help pay the legal bills for the dioceses that have been sending money to Rome all these years. If the Vatican does not, don't let the dioceses, which shrugged off the problem for so long, have a free pass on paying the bills caused by their mismanagement. If the church declares bankruptcy, they lose their tax exempt status. And then start a dialog in the UN about why VC has a seat like it's a country.

Bush Would Never Let Such a Thing Happen

From CNN:

As Russia's deputy finance minister indicated that the government and oil giant Yukos could reach an agreement to restructure a multi-billion-dollar tax bill for 2000, the Russian prosecutor general Tuesday said that the company may be forced to pay back taxes for other years, too.

"This is a snowball. This case has a beginning, but it is very difficult to see the end," Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov told radio station Echo in Moscow.

Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his close associate, Platon Lebedev, are facing trial on charges of fraud and tax evasion totaling more than $1 billion.
Oh wait. There's more!
Although the legal cases are technically separate, some observers believe they are both part of a Kremlin-directed effort to take over the company and eliminate Khodorkovsky's economic and political clout.

"There are signs that the destruction of the Yukos Oil Company is the end game," a senior U.S. diplomat said.
Now THIS is something Bush could appreciate.

Edwards' Inexperience?

Already, the Republicans are saying that John Edwards is just a pretty boy (not something you can similarly say about Dr. Evil, Dick Cheney), has no foreign policy experience and only limited political experience.

Yet he has more of both of these latter two than George Bush had going into the 2000 presidential race. And Edwards has never declared war on anyone. Foreign relations are, after all, more than shooting at a different county. In fact, Cheney and Bush (mentioned in order of power) have proven themselves bullies, not statesmen.

Israeli Parliament Debates Settlements

From the AP:

Israel's parliament called a special debate Tuesday on the threat posed by Jewish extremists opposed to settlement evacuation, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the first time acknowledged publicly that he feels at risk. In new fighting, an Israeli commando and seven Palestinians were killed in a series of clashes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials and the army said.

New AIDS Cases Skyrocket

This is very bad news:

The world is losing the race against the AIDS virus, which caused record numbers of infections and deaths around the globe last year, the United Nations reported Tuesday.

Although there have been successes and money is starting to flow, the virus has now pushed deep into Eastern Europe and Asia, and tackling it will be even more expensive than previously thought, according to the report, which gives the most accurate picture to date of the state of the world's HIV disaster.

The number of people living with HIV has risen in every region of the world. Last year, a record 5 million people became infected, and 3 million died. UNAIDS chief Dr. Peter Piot said those figures were a testament to the world's failure to get prevention and treatment to the people who need it.

Nine out of 10 people who urgently need treatment are not getting it, and prevention is still only reaching one in five who should have it, the report said.
If only Reagan had not ignored it for most of his two terms here, one must wonder how the widespread nature of AIDS might have been altered.

Car Bomb Kills at Least 13

This one was exploded northeast of Baghdad.

Hitchens: Be Grateful Bush Didn't Get Drunk on 9-11

Gee, I'd almost rather the president had a drink rather than HIDE all day. Then, when he returned, it's been one non-stop rich tax cut/war.

From Wonkette:

The NYDN peeks at Christopher Hitchens's Vanity Fair column and finds the Johnnie Walker enthusiast looking on the bright side: "That Bush did not surrender to the need for a colossal bourbon on Sept. 11 stands, I think to his credit." Right. So let's go to the official Bush presidency scoreboard. Pros: Did not get stinking drunk on 9/11. Cons: Started a war that has yet to be proven necessary.

Could you send that Johnnie Walker over our way now?
In the same piece, Bush purportedly calls his twins a pain in the gluteus maximus.

Bush-Cheney Taking High Road

They plan ads showing John McCain and proclaiming him the Dems' first choice they couldn't get.

Except that I don't remember Kerry ever indicating McCain was his first choice. For all I know, this only took place in McCain's mind. And McCain has since turned into a super whore for Bush-Cheney - not the kind of VP material the Dems need anyway. This is why McCain should never be in a line of selection for the top spot. While there's a lot to respect about McCain, he's the true flip-flopper extraordinaire, and he's sure not pure.

NY Post Scoop Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong

The bulldog edition of The Post ran early this morning with its BIG scoop: Dick Gephardt as Kerry's VP pick. They indeed played it up as if they had exclusive information (the same exclusive information hundreds of other venues reported all weekend apparently).

Blair Says WMD May Never Be Found

Gee, Tony, y'think?

So it's Kerry-Edwards

Congratulations to John Edwards on being named Kerry's VP choice for the Democratic nomination, ending a long weekend of speculation that Dick Gephardt - with his experience in Washington - had the nod sewn up.

While I was lukewarm about Gephardt, he really has given a long career of service. And there's something to respect about a man who finished a long DC career without becoming a millionaire many times over. Let's face it: (almost) any elected official who becomes fat-cat rich during their tenure is clearly involved in things designed to sell out the constituents.


Has Captured Marine Been Released?

From CNN/AP:

The brother of an American Marine who had been taken hostage in Iraq asserted Tuesday that his brother, Cpl. Wassef Hassoun, has been freed.

Sami Hassoun, speaking to CNN from Tripoli, Lebanon, said there is clear "sign" that his brother is "alive" and has been "released."

However, Sami Hassoun would not elaborate on where he got his information or what specifically the sign was from his brother.

He said earlier reports that Cpl. Hassoun was beheaded in an execution was a shock, and the family gave each other comfort and prayed.

Israel's Sharon May Be Increasing, Not Dismantling Settler Outposts

We've heard this for more than a year. For some reason, it's supposed to be surprising news to Washington:

In a display likely to increase U.S. displeasure with Israel, an opposition lawmaker and former general Monday showed photos of four West Bank outposts he said proves the government is deceiving Washington by expanding the enclaves instead of taking them down.

In new fighting, Israeli troops raided the West Bank city of Nablus and a Gaza refugee camp early Tuesday. Two Palestinians, including a teenager, were killed and at least four soldiers wounded in exchanges of fire, the army and medics said.

The settlement watchdog group Peace Now said it has counted 53 outposts Israel is required to dismantle under the U.S.-backed ``road map'' peace plan - or nearly twice the 28 named in a government list handed to the Americans last week.

``There is a clear-cut case of flagrant deception and a breaking of the promise to the Americans,'' legislator Ephraim Sneh from the Labor Party told reporters in displaying the ``before'' and ``after'' photos.

U.S. officials in Israel declined comment. However, they have publicly rebuked Israel in recent weeks, a sign of growing impatience with its handling of the outposts, seen as seeds of future settlements.

Two Tons of Bombs

That's how much ballistic power we dropped on the neighborhood in Fallujah today making yet another failed assassination of Zarqawi and taking out a lot of others (often, just civilians and residents) instead.

Soldiers' and 911 Families Urge Bush to See Fahrenheit 911

I hope they get their wish. Unfortunately, though, I believe is in completely incapable of seeing his culpability in anything.

NEW YORK - President Bush (news - web sites) and everyone in Washington should screen Michael Moore's controversial anti-Bush film "Fahrenheit 9/11," a group of military and 9/11 families said Wednesday.

"What we want to say is how important Michael Moore's movie is ... in bringing back the ability to have a dialogue" about the issues surrounding the war," said Nancy Lessin of the group Military Families Speak Out, whose stepson is a Marine.

"What we're trying to do here is to tell the administration ... not only see it but then come out ... and explain why this happened, why we went to Iraq (news - web sites) and why 9/11 happened," said Ivan Medina, a former Marine from Middletown, N.Y., who served in Iraq and whose twin brother Irving was killed there.

More than 100 Children Locked Up? More Prisoner Abuse?

Buzzflash, from a reader who translated from the German periodical Der Spiegel, brings us a rather horrifying story of a great number of children being imprisoned in Iraq and that they have been the target of abuse by coalition forces.

I hope it's not true. But I also know the US has repeatedly said no civilians were killed or taken in certain raids, only to see rooms filled with children's bodies collected from such strikes. These are toddlers and six year olds, not a 15 yr old whom you could argue is trying to act like the big men in fighting.

There's even a relatively "good" reason for the lie: if we had any idea of how much of this sort of thing is going on, support for the war would fall even farther, even faster than it has. And I've seen some images (such as an Iraqi boy holding up a sign written by the American soldier standing next to him saying, "Corporal So-and-So murdered my father and raped my sister. God bless America) that show some abuse is definitely going on.

More on the Captive Lebanese-American Marine

Good news? False? Who knows.

An Iraqi Islamist group said it had moved abducted U.S. marine Wassef Ali Hassoun to "a place of safety" after he pledged not to return to the American armed forces, Al Jazeera television said on Monday.


Ten people or more have died in a new US airstrike on Fallujah.

Fahrenheit 911 to Show to Troops?

While I didn't catch the specifics (if there were any), a report I heard today says that whoever's in charge for booking films for showing to the military has been in contact with the F-911 distributor to acquire rights to show it on military bases.

Why Optimism Isn't the Great White Hope

Ezra Klein of Pandagon has a strong and thoughtful piece up on Gadflyer examining all the rather worthless talk about the important of optimism to "save America".

Hey, I think optimism can play a role in overall outlook. But just sticking a dumb grin on your face while tsunamis strike, the infrastructure collapses, the economy folds, Rome burns, and Godzilla attacks sounds... oh... just a bit delusional.

Conservative War on Truth

From Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly:

THE CONSERVATIVE WAR ON THE TRUTH....As I was catching up on a few things this morning I ran across this Knight-Ridder story about the latest right-wing action program:

    Conservatives across the country decry news coverage of the war as relentlessly and unfairly negative. Last week Brent Bozell, a conservative activist, launched a $2.8 million advertising and talk-radio campaign to discredit the "liberal news media."

Wow. These guys have $2.8 million to spend solely to convince people that they shouldn't believe anything they read in the papers? That's remarkable.

Of course, it's just one small cog in the conservative program to discredit anyone with enough independent expertise to pose a threat to conservative ideology. Scientists? They manipulate the evidence to favor their liberal agenda. University professors who have actually studied an area deeply? Just a bunch of wild-eyed socialists. Reporters? Enough said.

As Franklin Foer points out in this week's New Republic cover story, this attitude is pervasive in the Bush administration:

    The most common explanation for this animus is that the White House overflows with political hacks uninterested in the nitty-gritty of policy. But the administration's expert-bashing also has deep roots in ideology. Since its inception, modern American conservatism has harbored a suspicion of experts, who, through adherence to inductive reasoning and academic methodologies, claim to provide objective research and analysis.

    To be sure, this social-scientific approach has its limits. Conservatives have raised genuinely troubling questions about its predilection for downplaying the role of "culture" and "values" in shaping human behavior. But the Bush administration has adopted a far more extreme version of this critique: It takes the radically postmodern view that "science," "objectivity," and "truth" are guises for an ulterior, leftist agenda; that experts are so incapable of dispassionate and disinterested analysis that their work doesn't even merit a hearing. And the results have been disastrous.

Conservative distrust of liberal social science — sometimes justified — has metastasized in the past few decades into a distrust of any fact-based research program that reaches non-favored conclusions. Thus the distrust of the CIA when it initially resisted neocon beliefs about Saddam's WMD and the contempt for Arabists and State Department experts who warned that occupying Iraq required real planning and real knowledge.

The disaster this has caused is obvious and immediate. Less immediate, but no less disastrous, is the administration's refusal to acknowledge the CBO's economic projections or the scientific establishment's consensus on global warming. In this administration, if the facts don't fit their agenda, all the worse for the facts.

More Married Women Having Affairs?

Is this - the results of a study showing that women are starting to catch up to married mens' record 50% infidelity rate - really a surprise?

Frankly, as much as the model of the couple who loves each other faithfully and completely and forever sounds so wonderful, monogamy is simply not our natural state. We can work to obtain that standard and certainly, many do. But we can't act like it's a natural aspect of being human or we make our work that much more difficult.

After all, we often treat sex as a weapon, a reward, or an itch to be scratched. What do many people do when they feel wronged in some way by a spouse? They try to take up with someone else, however fleetingly. They do it to feel victorious, to feel wanted, to feel empowered, to make the other person jealous.

Even if you factor out the negative, just look at how tough it is for one person to satisfy your needs forever. Your mental or attitudinal soul mate may not be the best match in sex, while a nymphomaniac probably isn't going to address a man's total self anymore than a stud muffin is going to completely satisfy a woman.

Kerry Has His Running Mate

Ahead of Tuesday, when Dem prez candidate John Kerry is supposed to announce his choice first in Email to his registered members and then to the general public, word is out today that he has his VP choice.

On two hours of sleep in which I dreamed I owed money to Tony Soprano and I had to supply sex to pay him off (ewww!), I'm not even going to hazard a guess. I just hope it will be a good man - since woman is too much to ask - that makes us feel more united behind Kerry.

Gosh, Can You Believe Florida's Voter Purge List Contains Far More Dems than Republicans?

I bet you could:

Florida's error-prone list of 47,763 suspected felons who could be tossed from voter rolls before November's presidential election contains nearly three times as many registered Democrats as Republicans. Almost half are racial minorities.
Scum-sucking no

What Did Bush Know?

[Ed. note: Oh, don't give me opening lines like that.]

Always a good question. This time, it's tackled by Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice:

In 2002, Donald Rumsfeld was asked by the CIA for legal advice about how to extract information from captured alleged terrorists. Rumsfeld turned to the Justice Department, and a memorandum was prepared by John Ashcroft's Office of Legal Counsel—and shown as well to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales.

The essence of this memo's language—as reported in a front-page June 8 Washington Post story—was very similar to the March 2003 extensive Pentagon justification of torture that broke in the June 7 Wall Street Journal. Ashcroft's office had said: "[It] may be justified" to torture captured Al Qaeda terrorists abroad "in order to prevent future attacks on the United States by the Al Qaeda terrorist network . . . " "Necessity and self-defense," said the Justice Department, "could provide justification that would eliminate any criminal liability."

It was this hitherto secret August 2002 memo from John Ashcroft's department that helped lay the groundwork for the much longer and more inflammatory March 2003 classified Pentagon report from a constellation of administration civilian and military lawyers. These attorneys, presumably graduates of top law schools, included participants from intelligence agencies and the Justice Department that have exploded the government's cover-up of its selective approval of torture.

That March 2003 report includes stunning analysis of the overwhelming extent of George W. Bush's power. As summarized by The Wall Street Journal, " 'constitutional principles' make it impossible to 'punish officials for aiding the president in exercising his exclusive constitutional authorities' and neither Congress nor the courts could 'require or implement the prosecution of such an individual.' "
[Ed. note: Emphasis mine. It's astounding.]

Stem Cell Research and the Senate

Orrin Hatch says the Senate can make Mr. Bush back down on the most restrictive aspects of stem cell research as practiced during the Dark Ages of the Far Right. Is this a graceful out for the president or a slap in the puss for him?

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican supporter of embryonic stem cell research, said Sunday there is wide support in the Senate to ease the Bush administration's restrictive policy.

Hatch said supporters have more than the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster, but he's unsure whether Congress would act "in this hot political atmosphere."

The Utah senator predicted on CNN's "Late Edition" that the administration and supporters of the research would reach a compromise that would include moral and ethical standards set by the National Institutes of Health.


Expendable Women

It's ugly indeed. See The Times' editorial today on Bush's assault again the UN Population Fund, one specifically going after women.

ne of the uglier aspects of the Bush administration's assault on women's reproductive rights is its concerted undermining of the United Nations Population Fund based on the false accusation that it supports coerced abortions in China.

The fund supports programs in some 141 countries to advance poor women's reproductive health, reduce infant mortality, end the sexual trafficking of women and prevent the spread of H.I.V. and AIDS. Yet under pressure from conservative religious groups, the administration is expected to withhold the $34 million that Congress appropriated this year for these vital efforts, much as President Bush blocked the $34 million Congress approved in 2002 and last year's $25 million allocation.

The damage does not end there. The administration has lately stepped up its effort to isolate the Population Fund by quietly threatening the financing of other leading groups, including Unicef and the World Health Organization, if they continue to work with the fund. Take the chilling example of Marie Stopes International. Last year the State Department discontinued support for a small but well-regarded private AIDS program for African and Asian refugees run by Marie Stopes and other groups, citing Marie Stopes's cooperating in China with the Population Fund.

Just last month, three federal agencies — the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — pulled their support from a major international conference on health issues, apparently owing to the inclusion of speakers from the Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

To justify these destructive machinations, the Bush administration has perpetuated a bogus accusation that the Population Fund has either stood by or helped with coerced abortions in China. This disregards America's own relationship with China, never mind that none of the money approved by Congress would go to China, or that the State Department's investigating team found no evidence that the Population Fund has supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. It also disregards the Population Fund's crucial role in helping to drive down China's abortion rate below the level of the United States and in encouraging China to devote new attention to combating H.I.V. and AIDS.

Cheney's Doctor Had a Little Drug Problem

You know, if he were a normal mortal, John Ashcroft would have executed him by now as a drug fiend straight out of "Reefer Madness". Still, in all seriousness, medical professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.) have a very high rate of substance abuse simply because of the reasonable availability of the meds so it's not much of a joking matter.

However, one good indicator that the man was on drugs is that he suggested Mr. Cheney had a heart. ;-)

Vice President Dick Cheney's personal doctor, who four years ago declared Mr. Cheney "up to the task of the most sensitive public office" despite a history of heart disease, was battling an addiction to prescription drugs at the time and has recently been dropped from the vice president's medical team, according to officials at the hospital where he practiced.

The doctor, Gary Malakoff of George Washington University Medical Center, had treated Mr. Cheney since 1995 and been a prominent spokesman on the vice president's health. He also reviewed the medical records of Vice President Al Gore during the 2000 campaign, but did not see Mr. Gore as a patient.

Hospital officials said Sunday that they had known since 1999 of Dr. Malakoff's problem, and that Dr. Malakoff informed the vice president at that time or in 2000. But he was permitted to continue working, they said, while undergoing treatment and monitoring, including urine tests, by an independent board.

But in May, when the board concluded that Dr. Malakoff was too impaired to care for patients, he was relieved of his position as director of the medical center's general internal medicine division, they said. He is on leave until September, and could not be reached Sunday for comment.

Italian Government Close to Collapse?

What is it with these country leader friends like Putin (who can't keep things from blowing up), Bush (who can't keep from bankrupting us), and Berlosconi (who just can't)?

Tensions persist in Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's coalition, with one of the parties dangling the possibility it might pull out after a key minister resigned.

Giulio Tremonti, from Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, quit as economy minister Saturday after the premier's main coalition partner, National Alliance, issued an ultimatum -- him or us -- during a stormy meeting to plot the future of the three-year-old conservative government.

Tremonti's departure angered a smaller coalition partner, the Northern League, which raised the possibility it might exit the government. The League, a big booster of Tremonti, brought down Berlusconi's first government in 1994 when it yanked its support.

In the "Get Out the Lipstick, Here Comes the Pig" Department...

Iraq Prime Minister Allawi refutes charges that he is just a puppet for the Bush Administration. You remember Allawi: the great friend to our CIA, the man who like Chalabi really has no major ties to Iraq, the one who insists like Bush and Cheney that Iraq was tied to Osama and 9-11.

"They Hate Us Because of Our Freedom"


Are We Lying About Saddam's Court Appearance Censorship?

Thanks to Buzzflash for this link at TruthOut which seems to indicate that the US, in typical fashion particularly under the Bush Administration, is even doctoring the spin of its spin of the Court House spin regarding Hussein's appearance in court last week, which they acknowledged was censored to start.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "U.S. and Iraqi authorities took pains to make the court proceedings appear to be solely an Iraqi undertaking."

In spite of the Statute of the Iraqi Special Tribunal’s mandate of public hearings, no one save the two dozen or so people present in the courtroom were supposed to hear Saddam’s words. But an audiotape of the proceedings was smuggled out to the media and listeners throughout the world.

A team of U.S. military officers censored the media coverage of the proceeding. They destroyed the videotapes of Saddam in chains and deleted the legal record of the statements of the 11 senior members of Saddam’s regime who appeared at the same hearing.

One journalist present in the courtroom revealed: "We learned later that the judge didn't order us to turn off our sound. The Americans lied - it was they who wanted no sound. The judge wanted sound and pictures."

The 26-minute colloquy gave us a roadmap of how Saddam will defend himself. Showing utter contempt for the judge whom he identified as a tool of the occupiers, Saddam sneered: "So you are an Iraqi representing the coalition forces?" Indeed, the judge was appointed by Saddam’s successor, L. Paul Bremer.

Saddam added: "You know that this is all a theater by Bush the criminal, to help him win his election."

He was adamant that he had the right to invade Kuwait. Saddam declared that he "defended Iraq’s honor and revived its historical rights over those dogs," whom, he claimed, "said it will reduce Iraqi women to 10-dinar prostitutes."

The sight of Saddam standing up to his accusers played well throughout Iraq. Even many who had endured atrocities under Saddam’s regime saw him as the embodiment of their Arab land, shattered by bombs and occupied by Western infidels.

Yes, they suffered under Saddam. But Operation "Iraqi Freedom" has brought mostly misery to the people of Iraq. Tens of thousands of them have died in this illegal war. Almost 20 million of Iraq’s 26 million people have less available electricity than before the war began, according to the General Accounting Office. The Iraqi security forces are suffering from mass desertion. And the judicial system is more clogged than before the war; assassination attempts against judges are rampant.

The timing of Thursday’s court appearance corroborates Saddam’s assertion that the whole thing was theater. The ink was hardly dry on the "sovereignty" transfer papers when Saddam was rushed into a televised court appearance to create the illusion that Iraqis are running the show.

Truthfully, however, American fingerprints are all over these proceedings. Bremer was responsible for drafting The Statute of the Iraqi Special Tribunal before which Saddam appeared. This "neutral" tribunal is financed by the United States. The FBI is leading the investigation. Also on the team are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Department of Justice. And although Iraqis have been given legal custody of Saddam, he remains in the physical custody of the Americans.

Emmanuel Ludot, one of 22 lawyers designated by Saddam’s wife to defend him, told the French newspaper Liberation: "All our effort will consist of paralyzing the operation of the Iraqi special tribunal, the legality of which we contest. This tribunal has no basis in law, since Iraq has no National Assembly today to create a special jurisdiction." He called the trial preparations "a masquerade of justice."

Ludot said: "The tribunal being put in place by the Americans is a disguised execution squad ... These judges are still under the shock of emotion and pain." Saddam, he warned, "will either be judged in fear or in vengeance."

"The first thing Saddam will say is that he is and remains the Iraqi President," according to Ludot. "Two countries, the United States and Great Britain, have invaded Iraq without a mandate and in violation of international law. Legally, that’s an aggression and everything that has happened since this invasion is tinged with irregularity."

Asked where Saddam should be tried if this court is not competent, Ludot answered: "Since the United States did not want the International Criminal Court, there is a complete legal vacuum."

But not one of Saddam’s 22 lawyers was with him in court Thursday. The tribunal’s statute provides for the right to counsel. The judge told Saddam: "I’m investigating, interrogating you." Saddam asked for his lawyer before he signed the document the judge instructed him to sign. But when Saddam refused, the judge signed it for him.

Ludot said: "Clearly, we are not welcome in Iraq. The new authorities would prefer Iraqi lawyers easy to intimidate and a quick trial." British attorney Tim Hughes said he and his colleagues were "kept in the dark" about the proceedings.

Another member of the legal defense team received threats from someone claiming to be from the Iraqi Justice Ministry. Anyone who tried to defend Saddam, the caller said, would be "chopped to pieces."

Many Iraqis sympathize with Saddam. "It’s a humiliation, not just for Iraqis but for all Arab peoples," Aamer Eliisa, a Shiite, told the Los Angeles Times. Eliisa said Saddam has become "a symbol for all Iraqis."

DOJ Excuse #35,967: The Computer Ate My Info

From Wired:

The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.
I think I just broke a rib laughing. This is just pathetic.