Bush's Plan to Cut 70,000 Troops Overseas

From CNN:

President Bush has decided to bring home tens of thousands of U.S. troops from posts around the world -- most of them in Europe and Asia -- plus 100,000 of their family members and support personnel, U.S. officials said Saturday.

The changes will have no effect on forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Exactly what this really means certainly remains to be seen. I'm dubious. First and most notably, this has no affect on Iraq or Afghanistan. Second, I'm not sure this does a damned thing ultimately to aid the program of way-overstretched troops.

So whether this is merely a cost savings, just campaign rhetoric or what again remains to be seen.

Campaign Analysis

The Excellent Skippy points us to a new political resource site. Check it out.

The Prez Goes to Florida

Sure, it sounds just so thoughtful that the president is heading down to Florida quickly to assess damage. But consider this: all salvage and rescue operations will be impacted as emergency workers and police are diverted to keep the president's privileged little tush safe. The cost for his visit could be better put to use helping victims of the hurricane. Of course, the same could be said about Jeb: he looks like he could stand to miss a meal or seven to donate to victim relief.

The Olympics

[suppressing yawn]

If you're looking for great Olympic coverage, you sure as hell won't find it here. I know, I know. You haven't heard such a stunning endorsement since Denny Hastert said Alan Keyes made a great Illinois Senatorial candidate because a 70-year-old farmer nobody knows decided his health was too poor to run.

But seriously, it's just hard to get rah-rah excited about the Olympics for a number of reasons: the rampant corruption that still exists (bullshit aside), the fact that the way the media in the US covers the Olympics is to all but pretend no other country participates, that the Olympics were originally started to test both the mind and the body (yet most Olympic athletes today seem challenged to name the three colors in the American flag), that most of the folks participating come from or were granted privilege to devote their lives to practice (most of us have to work), and the syrupy, crappy stories you have to sit through.

What really turned me off this year was NBC's purple prose about the teams from Afghanistan and Iraq. They acted like it was just American prowess that restored their countries to wonderful operation so these athletes could participate (as in, "Before the US arrived, this Afghan woman would have been forced to wear a birka"). Go to Afghanistan. Most women TODAY have to wear birkas. The Taliban and warlords are in control of most of the country.

Time on Najaf

Time has a fairly readable article up on the situation in Najaf. It leaves lots of holes, but worth a read.

"The Mystery Isn't that Rick James Died...."

From Bill Maher last night: "The mystery isn't that Rick James died; it's that Courtney Love is still alive."


CNN says Iraqi officials have announced peace talks to end the fighting in Najaf have broken down.

No surprise there. I don't think either side - and perhaps especially the US command - is looking for a peaceful solution. This is bad news, obviously for the residents of Najaf and our soldiers, but also for the world.

The media has talked little about it, but the Arab world has been vocally opposed to our operations there, with Egypt and a number of other countries weighing in. Clearly, many civilians are dying. We're not hearing about them or the soldier sacrifices among the US and the rest of the coalition of the dragged along.

Gov. Jeb Bush: "Our Worst Fears Have Come True"

No, this isn't about Jeb's realization that his brother is running for a second term as president. (Ahem)

The retirement community of Punta Gorda was hit very hard by Charley, a Category 4 hurricane, and the dead haven't even begun to be counted yet. Unfortunately, the storm hit differently than where it was expected, so that after nearly a million were asked to evacuate Tampa, people taking refuge at home elsewhere were struck instead.

In some good news, Florida being a swing state, under the president's brother's control, it's likely relief will come about as quickly as possible in a bureaucratic mess such as our government offers. But some two million throughout the state may be without power for days, and Charley set to work its way up along the coast.


Good Night, Julia Child

Just shy of her 92nd birthday, Julia Child has died.

While I cannot say I learned to cook from her, she definitely laid the groundwork for my enjoyment of cooking and creating in the kitchen at a later time - a real innovator in the world of TV cooking lessons. My mother was an excellent cook but rather limited in variety of preparations. From Julia, I learned about all types of foods and seasonings that I then used to increase my own range of recipes and variations.

She was such a one of a kind, you know?

Unnamed White House Official Admits There is No Known Threat

I've heard this several times this evening, in brief, except for Keith Olbermann's Countdown on MSNBC which discussed it more. The unnamed source, within the White House, says there is nothing definitely to base the current state of bright orange upon. This is right after Tom Ridge insisted again the other day that attacks are imminent.

Another official, also unnamed, indicates that video surveillance of the New York area really isn't anything, but that the White House would have raised the terror alert anyway.

Of course, this came out on Friday afternoon, during a tropical storm, and in mid-August, when no one is paying attention. This is the way bad or inconvenient news is often released.

Interestingly enough, however, a poll (taken in Michigan, a serious swing state, and released yesterday in the Chicago Sun-Times) shows that the more people fear another terror attack, the more likely they are to vote for Kerry. Strange that this White House insider gives up the goods on this terror alert right after the Chicago Sun Times headline screams that the fear factor is no longer necessarily aiding Mr. Bush in public opinion.

Craig Crawford (Congressional Quarterly) says nearly 40% of Americans in other polls feel that the terror alert is definitely politicall motivated.

Dropping the Gay Bomb Indeed

From Weekly World News, perhaps written by alien Batboy himself comes this plan by al Qaeda to turn Americans into gays to start a new war:

EXTREMIST Muslim scientists are developing a bomb that turns anyone within a 30-mile radius of its blast into a homosexual, say U.S. Intelligence insiders.

It's all a part of the Al Qaeda master plan to pull our country apart and kill the patriotism that makes us strong. "

They believe that making more Americans gay will start civil war between gays and ultraconservatives," says one highly placed intelligence officer. "They also figure it will lead to a decrease in the U.S. population."

The Gay Bomb was already in the planning stages when Osama Bin Laden and close, intimate friend Muhammad Atef founded the international terrorist group Al Qaeda in 1989.

"Atef and Bin Laden spent many late nights together during that time of revolution," reveals an ex-Al Qaeda member, who prefers to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
This is hilarious. Thanks to the snarky Wonkette for the link.

Porter Goss' Admission to Michael Moore re: CIA

"I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified. . . And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day: 'Dad, you got to get better on your computer.' Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have."
Boy, that makes you feel confident, doesn't it?

I don't believe Goss is the worst choice. He is, however, a political choice rather than the best choice. He's been most happy to go along with Mr. Bush, never raising any dust to sully the president's mood, and that is not something that will benefit the American public in a CIA chief.

McGreevey and the "Spurned Lover"

Yesterday, when I wrote of Jim McGreevey's resignation as governor of New Jersey, I specifically avoided the story going around that NJ's homeland security chief may be a spurned lover about to sue him for $5 million because right now, that's conjecture.

IF McGreevey hired this man - and he indeed has few credentials - only because they were having an affair, this is obviously very wrong. But we don't know the truth here. We only know what's being talked about.

Unfortunately, politics is filled with a powerful person (usually a man) giving a lover or a love interest a job for which they are not qualified. Jeb Bush, the president's chunky little brother and governor of Florida, has had at least one-two women who fell into that category, as just ONE example.

I have to balance this, too, against the fact that Tom Ridge really has NO credentials to be director of national homeland security. When Bush announced his appointment, we were told he was chosen because one of the 9-11 planes went down in Pennsylvania, which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. Ridge's assistant, Asa Hutchinson, is similarly unqualified for the job.

In other words, it's not just wrong when Democrats seat an unqualified person: it's wrong when anyone does it. Look at Porter Goss with the CIA? He, at least, has more past credentials for the CIA than Tom Ridge had for homeland security.

I won't even bother to address this whole "spurned lover" thing. Anyone who takes a job they are unqualified for knowing they are getting it because of their connections is just as guilty as the person appointing them. If the stories are true, there is no way that this Israeli national should profit from his actions, considering he's already profited.

But again, all we have now are conjectures and rumors.

Have a Grand Friday the 13th

It's one of my favorite days of the year. Here's hoping it brings everyone with poor luck some great opportunities for better fortune.


Is CNN Turning Into a Campaign Site for the GOP?

Today, for a time, there was no mention of Dems except to say that John Kerry was criticized for making "sensitive" comment about Iraq, while (besides that) there were at least 4-5 different pictures and stories surrounding the Bush and Cheneys. I wouldn't even bring this up was the first time this had happened.

It's like having a Fox News web site. Come to think of it, I'm sure Fox News has a Web site. But I guess we never hear about it because I'm not sure Fox's most loyal watchers - like Limbaugh enthusiasts - could spell Fox in their browser address windows. (Cough)

McGreevey: I am a Gay American

That took a lot of guts. I would like to see the people of New Jersey respond by asking him to stay, but I doubt this will happen.

Is the Governor of New Jersey Planning to Resign?

Update:WNBC in New York just announced McGreevey will resign but with no reason given.

So far, I've just heard this from Faux (talk about unreliable sources), but they're saying that Democratic NJ Governor Jim McGreevey is holding a 4 PM (EDT) press conference to discuss "personnel changes" and that the governor's office is denying rumors that he plans to resign.

Resign for what reason?

I know there was a small issue about one of his campaign/management staff, but I've heard nothing more about that for some time. For me, at least, this comes out of the blue.

California Voids Same-Sex Marriages

Sad to see this, although it's not entirely unexpected.

From CNN:

The California Supreme Court voided all same-sex marriages sanctioned by San Francisco this year, ruling today that the mayor overstepped his authority by issuing the couples licenses. The court said the city violated the law when it issued the certificates, since both legislation and a voter-approved measure defined marriage as a union between a man and woman.

Terror Alert Overload

With the FDA today coming out to voice concern that terrorists will strike water, food, and drug supplies comes a dawning realization (one hopes) that this administration intends to batter the public to death with alerts now through the election. The rationale seems clear.

However, I'd like to think the public can be bright enough to a) realize the rationale and b) understand that at best, this is Cover-Your-Ass mentality at its worst and c) ask important questions like "Why the hell are we spending so much when nothing seems to be any more secure today than on 9-10-01?"

Granted, the airports check our shoes. But we've NEVER had a shoe-based attack. That fool from England in December '01 didn't come close to achieving his result, and there is little evidence what he had on him would have done more than smoke. In return, we're spending hundreds of billions of dollars protecting against sneaker attacks.

Does this sound intelligent to you?


Victoria (Gag) Gotti

I've really got to learn to keep the remote control handy so I can turn off crap like Victoria Gotti on Leno just now.

For a woman who insists that all Italian women are cultured and stunning (and I agree, so very many are), she instead comes off as the cheapest trash dressed in the most expensive clothing, plastic surgery, and other enhancements possible. She tells us one of her sons is going to Harvard Law School. Great trick. Usually, a high school student must go to a 4-year college first.

Mickey Kaus is a better writer than Victoria Gotti, and I wouldn't use Mickey Kaus' prose to protect myself from rain OR Al Qaeda.

Man, I hope this broad (and I don't think I've ever used that term before for another woman) disappears from the scene quickly. She's so low class that she makes Paris Hilton look smart (although neither get an award for "natural").

The Failure of Charter Schools

Lambert at Corrente posts about the failure (economic and otherwise) of California's largest charter school system.

Now, it's not the first charter school failure, by any means, as much as Republicans (primarily) want to promote the idea of private education over public. They've tried to ruin public education as much as possible by promoting the No Child Left Behind in Public Schools initiative and vouchers, killing educational funds, and making it harder and harder for public schools to continue.

Think about Brown Vs. the Board of Education, and realize that every child today - or more specifically, every child who is not born to parents who can afford good private schools - faces being ousted from the educational system under Bush and his pals. This is most frightening. Educating our kids is truly one of the best investments we can make, and I'd much rather teach a kid to read, write, and reason than how to shoot an uzi.

Fuck the Vote?

Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's Countdown tonight had a spot (albeit with - he gives hacks a bad name - Mickey Kaus of Slate) on a site that is supposedly offering conservative Republicans (and yes, there are conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans) sex with Dems if they agree NOT to vote for George W. Bush.

Now, they wouldn't give the name of the site out, but implied it was Fuckthevote.com. However, a visit there does not appear to offer this. Hence, I'm not linking to it.

I can't begin to imagine this is legitimate. First, I would consider it illegal to try to purchase a vote in such a way. Second, it's immoral for reasons that have nothing to do with sex between two consenting although unmarried adults.

To me, it sounds like something Karl Rove would dream up on the south end of a 5 martini lunch to discredit the Dems.

Showdown in Najaf

People with service personnel must be scared to death, as well as those with friends and families in the city. From CNN:

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urges his armed followers to keep up their battle even if he is seized or killed. U.S. and Iraqi forces preparing for a major assault in Najaf against the Mehdi Army militia loyal to al-Sadr. "Iraqi and U.S. forces are making final preparations... to finish this fight that the Muqtada militia started," Col. Anthony Haslam, commanding officer of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said.
I'm not sure it's accurate to say the militia started this, sorry to admit. We invaded their country, and we had the pomposity, the nerve to say it was to free them. But al-Sadr began fighting in earnest when we showed him anything but independence and we were launching attacks and edicts against Najaf long before the militia there began.

Another Beheading on Videotape?

A foreign Web site is supposedly featuring videotape of a man with a sign around his neck identifying himself as American, possibly CIA, who is then beheaded with a huge ceremonial knife. But while three Americans are missing (and boy, do I doubt that number) including two civilians and one service person (which may be a fellow executed in another video, where he's shot to death but the Army says they can't ID him), the CIA says none of its operatives are unaccounted for.

I'd like to think this is staged, but I doubt it. Indeed, nothing in Iraq has seemed to improve since we "handed over" power on June 28th.


Sidestepping Real Reform

From the New York Times:

As the Sept. 11 commission made clear, the nation urgently needs to reorganize its intelligence agencies. Nominating a new candidate for the old, unreformed job of director of central intelligence, as President Bush did yesterday, is not the logical or appropriate place to start. Last week, Mr. Bush attempted to transform the powerful new position of national intelligence director, as proposed by the commission, into a neutralized bureaucratic cipher by depriving the office of any real authority. Now he once again seems intent on draining momentum from the idea of systematic intelligence reform.

Even under normal circumstances, it's questionable whether a president should try to install a new C.I.A. chief a few months before an election. Mr. Bush seems to be deliberately inviting a confirmation battle by turning to Representative Porter Goss of Florida, a partisan Republican and a man criticized for his close, protective relationship with that intelligence agency - where he once worked. After the catastrophic intelligence failures and oversight lapses of recent years, the Senate must rigorously examine Mr. Goss's suitability and political independence. But contentious confirmation hearings are likely to distract the Senate's attention from the far more important job of figuring out how to coordinate America's disparate and overlapping intelligence agencies and streamline a largely dysfunctional system of Congressional oversight.

Eating Raoul, Sort Of

Ewwwww. And please, don't tell me the victim probably tasted like chicken.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Four members of a family have been arrested and charged with murder for allegedly killing and eating a relative during a wedding reception -- and serving his flesh to unwitting party guests, police have said.

At the July 17 wedding of his daughter, Eladio Baule got angry with his cousin Benjie Ganay who tripped and accidentally touched the bride's bottom, said Senior Police Inspector Perla Bacuel, at Narra town in Palawan province, southwest of Manila.

A few hours later, Baule, his son Gerald, another cousin Junnie Buyot and a nephew, Sabtuari Pique, allegedly confronted Ganay, then drove him to a secluded place where they stabbed him to death, Bacuel said.

The Scott - Laci Peterson Case Revisited

A couple of people sent rather angry Email tonight about my posting and, while I'm not inclined to donate much time to the subject, let me elaborate a wee bit.

Yes, Scott sounds like a real skunk. But being a skunk, by itself, does not make one a wife killer. The physical evidence in this case is less than sterling (Court TV's Nasty... er... Nancy Grace's venomous rants aside: this woman's issues have issues) from what we've heard so far.

Nor do I buy all Amber Frey said today on the stand. Professional victims just don't get much respect from me and the number of times she's been involved in questionable relationships does not make her a great judge of character, IMHO.

I'm tired of hearing about people being convicted because jurors and the public get so worked up about the circumstances of a case. It's one thing to have an opinion. It's another to indict and convict someone just because you don't think the person did the right things in other areas of his/her life.

Show me some proof Scott did it and I'm fine with his conviction. But tell me he happened to be boating in the area and he's a skunk, and I'm not going to jump to the conclusion that he killed her.

Miami-Dade County Asks for Election Monitor

Great idea! And no, the monitor should NOT be named Bush.

Miami-Dade Commission Chairwoman Barbara Carey-Shuler has asked the county manager to let an independent organization monitor the county's primary election in three weeks and the presidential election in November.

Last week, Carey-Shuler issued a memo to County Manager George Burgess urging election revisions that included the testing of the electronic voting machines during the election and oversight from the inspector general's office and the county's Audit and Management Department.

She said the county and its Elections Department were ``the laughingstock of the nation.''

Bill O'Reilly Vs. Paul Krugman

[Ed. note: One has a brain, and it's not O'Reilly.]

Skippy offers quite a write-up on Sunday's appearance on Tim Russert's show between the two above-mentioned people. I'm almost sorry I missed it, but I probably would have suffered a brain hemorrhage.

MSNBC News Host Campaigning for Bush

[Ed note: insert your own expletives here]

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting says that Joe Scarbrough, former GOP Congressman who left office suddenly (but not before a woman mysteriously died in his office) and now MSNBC host covering the campaign is also directly campaigning for President Bush.

Now, to be fair, Ron Reagan, an MSNBC pol analyst, spoke at the Dem National Convention. But he kept his speech non-partisan (concentrating only on stem cell research) and I haven't heard him openly campaign for John Kerry.

Terror Threats and Las Vegas

Keith Olbermann on MSNBC has a spot tonight on the government saying that Las Vegas is a major terror target and that Las Vegas officials refused to even view the tape or hear the warning. But the mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, says he and his people were NEVER contacted and when he saw the tape the government purports shows the danger today, it showed an 8 year old "travelogue" style video in which some Middle Eastern men are wearing western-style clothing, eating ice cream, and playing slot machines.

Pro Choice Amounts to "Slaveholder's Views"?

Republican Alan Keyes ripped into Democratic rival Barack Obama's views on abortion Monday, calling them "the slaveholder's position," as the U.S. Senate race roared back to life in Illinois.
What the hell has Alan Keyes been smoking? And NO, I do not want any of it, thank you very much.

The Myth of Tax Cuts to Fuel Job Growth

The Des Moines Register says it well:

The American public has heard it over and over the past three years: Cut taxes and job growth will ensue. The Bush administration has repeatedly pushed the theory that cutting taxes would result in more jobs and better pay for average Americans.

The opposite has happened. The jobs aren't there. American workers are making fewer dollars, on average. So it's time to get honest about the best way to create jobs in this country and change strategies to accomplish that goal.

There are 1 million fewer jobs today than there were when President Bush took office. Last month, employers created about 32,000 jobs, not even enough to provide work for the new people entering the job market as population grows. It's one-tenth of what would be needed on a monthly basis to meet the early promises of the Bush administration.
Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.

A Bimbo Takes the Stand; Kobe Bryant's Accuser Files Civil Suit

Amber Frey, Scott Peterson's mistress, aka Bimbo, took the stand today in the trial for the murder of Peterson's wife, Laci. Yawn.

Amber's whole deal is that she's a victim. But apparently not one who learns her lesson. After Scott, she had yet another affair with a man that's been reported as married (those mean old men), and had a second child out of wedlock. I don't see her as a crucial witness but as a woman who hops in and out of love affairs as often as she changes her hair style.

I sure hope the evidence against Mr. Peterson amounts to more than this woman who apparently cannot think her way out of a paper bag.

In other news, Kobe Bryant's accuser has filed a civil suit. If he's guilty, I hope she gets a share of that $4 million "oops, sorry" ring Bryant bought his wife.

Near Anniversary of 2003's Great BlackOut

Comes word that the president's insistence on "voluntary compliance" leaves us in a situation where another blackout is very possible.

Candle anyone?

Bush: There's No Sense Taxing the Rich

I kid you not.

From Keith Olbermann:

President Bush said Monday there's no real point in taxing the rich. "Really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."

Porter Goss Chosen as New CIA Director

Story here.

Goss has several things going for him, including a background in working with the CIA. However, he's also come off as quite a Bushco lackey, so it makes one wonder if he hasn't been chosen as someone who will go along with the Admin line on everything, whether true or not, whether in America's best interests or not.

But there was no question that Bush was going to choose a yes man. That's what he does, again and again. Unfortunately, we don't need yes men. We need good men (and women).

The Wacko Cuban Congressman, Castro, and Heinz Kerry

On this point, I'm apt to sound like a conservative, but I'm really tired of having people come here from another country, become legislators, and then use American dollars and the American system to try to control the results they want in their former homeland. It makes no sense to me.

This occurs again and again with the Cuban exile community, who I view as single-handedly responsible for keeping Castro in power all these years by designing measures that waste money and other resources trying to unseat Castro, from the Bay of Pigs to immigration policy to the Cuban embargo to Elian Gonzalez, the little boy they wanted to steal from his remaining parent. If it's egregious, illegal, and stupid, they go for it.

It doesn't matter to them - all well-heeled, well-dressed, and sanctimonious - that the Cuban people are starving, poorly cared for, and severely limited DIRECTLY BECAUSE OF THEIR EFFORTS. No, all they care about is punishing Castro.

Younger, smarter Cuban Americans have embraced America as their home and just wish Castro was out of power. And Castro is in his late 70s now. How long is he going to last? I'm not excusing Castro. I'd like to see him gone, too. But there's more to the Cuban revolution than these Congressmen like to say. Cubans were in bad shape before Castro, because rich people like the older exile Cubans here now owned everything and largely enslaved their own country people to work for them. Castro changed that. Now almost everyone is poor.

Read this story, and you'll see the Cuban nut quotient (which I see as quite different from thousands of Cubans who have come here and truly established themselves as Americans) in Congress is now alleging that Teresa Heinz Kerry deliberately supported measures that supported Cuba.

Bogus? Sure.

But think of something else. These same Congressmen support measures that allow anyone from Cuba who can touch the shores of American soil to get on the fast track to American citizenship. Everyday, people are involved in efforts to try to get more Cubans to come over using this policy. Nobody from any other country gets this benefit. Only Cubans. In fact, when Guatemalan illegal aliens lost three of their children in an accident last week and could not return to Guatemala to bury their children, one of these Cuban Congresskooks, Ros-Lehtinen, said too fucking bad. Them's the rules. And they are the rules, unless you're Cuban.

So what if al Qaeda decides to come here through Cuba?

William Raspberry: Yet Another "Cry Wolf" Vote

From the Washington Post:

Are they playing with us again? I mean, all that talk about terrorist threats so detailed that the government had to move quickly to raise the alert status to orange and to screw up traffic around the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Is this prudence? Is it a domestic psy-war charade? Or is it an embattled incumbent reminding us that he is a "war president"?

More About Exposed Al Qaeda Mole and How Bushies Endangered Him and Us

From Reuters:

The revelation that a mole within al Qaeda was exposed after Washington launched its "orange alert" this month has shocked security experts, who say the outing of the source may have set back the war on terror.

Reuters learned from Pakistani intelligence sources on Friday that computer expert Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, arrested secretly in July, was working under cover to help the authorities track down al Qaeda militants in Britain and the United States when his name appeared in U.S. newspapers.

"After his capture he admitted being an al Qaeda member and agreed to send e-mails to his contacts," a Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters. "He sent encoded e-mails and received encoded replies. He's a great hacker and even the U.S. agents said he was a computer whiz."

Last Sunday, U.S. officials told reporters that someone held secretly by Pakistan was the source of the bulk of the information justifying the alert. The New York Times obtained Khan's name independently, and U.S. officials confirmed it when it appeared in the paper the next morning.

None of those reports mentioned at the time that Khan had been under cover helping the authorities catch al Qaeda suspects, and that his value in that regard was destroyed by making his name public.

Bushies Out Al Qaeda Mole, Creating More Chaos in War on Terror (Like it Needed Help)

From the Daily Kos quoting a buried section in a Reuters news article:

A report by the Reuter's news service in Pakistan said that Mr. Khan was secretly funneling information about al Qaeda to Pakistani authorities and that his arrest and subsequent identification in news accounts may have cost the United States a valuable source.
American officials contacted on Saturday would not confirm that Mr. Khan was a mole or double agent and said that his arrest had led to intelligence gains of enormous value in uncovering the surveillance operation in the United States.

Documents relating to the surveillance operation were first obtained by the United States from Pakistan beginning on July 29.


Tony Blair Rides Alone

From The Guardian:

Some of Tony Blair's oldest and closest ideological allies in the Labour party abandon their support for his leadership today, saying he is endangering the viability of the party, eroding trust in politics and embracing a market ideology largely indistinguishable from the Conservatives'.
Strange how aligning oneself with George W. Bush seems to be bad for most people's political and other health.

A Warning to Today's Soldiers

First, thank you for your service at a most difficult and confusing time.

But here's a word of warning. Right now, politicians will fall over themselves to have their pictures taken with you, to raise your name for their own purposes, to say how brave and wonderful you are (unfortunately, these days, too often while ALSO cutting your benefits, your immediate equipment needs, the education of your children, and too much else).

But if, someday, you decide to run for public office, those same politicians - or their legacy children or grandchildren who would NOT fight themselves - will do everything in their power to discredit you for the very service and risks you now undertake. Just look at Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and the list goes on and on.

The Ugliness of the Attacks on Veterans Like Kerry

The St. Petersburg Times has some strong words on the subject.

I'm frankly ill from attacks on Max Cleland (last week, GOP talking heads like Joe Scarbrough insisted all of this was quite fair), on Kerry, and others who actually did serve, and all lodged by people like Cheney, Bush, Rove, and Delay who wouldn't mess up a manicure to serve.

Mary Kay LeTourneau: She'd Like to Have More Kids

This woman is a certifiable nut case.

I have no problem with the fact that a court changed its ruling allowing her to reunite with her former sixth-grade lover. He's an adult now.

But she hasn't supported or been a mother to any of her six children for years. I believe the two kids from the boy are being funded through the state with they are raised by the boy's mother.

The LAST thing she should concern herself with is creating more lives she can embroil in the chaos she leaves in her wake.

Beware of Helicopters and Limos

Yup, that's the new line the government is feeding us in this ever-increasing ramp-up in terror.

But we've heard this before. Two years ago, al Qaeda was going to steal ambulances and fire trucks to kill America. Uh huh.

Too bad we wouldn't hear this about Hummers. Perhaps less would buy these huge gas guzzlers. I've yet to actually see a Hummer on the road that had more than one occupant inside.

GOP's Ringing Endorsement of Keyes? A Sick 70-yr-old Farmer Couldn't Run So Here's Keyes

Josh Marshall relates the following:

This entry by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, as related by The New York Times ...
    "I spent five weeks trying to find good people," said Mr. Hastert, who said he approached state legislators and the former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka and Gary Fencik, an Ivy Leaguer who was a hard-hitting safety.
    "I got down into last week interviewing a 70-year-old guy who was a great farm broadcaster in Illinois," Mr. Hastert said. "He decided because of his health problems he couldn't do it. You know, we were down — we needed to find somebody to run, somebody who wanted to run. And, you know, Alan Keyes wants to run, and I hope he's a good candidate."
Wow, that's just an overwhelming endorsement of Keyes' worthiness to run.

If Keyes drops out, I'm sure there's a dead person they can find to fill the ticket.

In the "Gee, Was Chicago Short on Black Candidates?" Department

Alan Keyes says he will definitely run against Dem rising star Barack Obama (from CNN):

Keyes had been critical of former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's run for Senate from New York in 2000, saying he "certainly wouldn't imitate her" by running for office from a state where he didn't live.

But Sunday, he said he changed his mind after reviewing the voting record of his opponent -- Barack Obama, a state senator and considered by some a rising star in the Democratic Party.

"I'll tell you by the time I got through the records, I was convinced that somebody had to run against Barack Obama," he said.

As a result, "I must leave the land of my forefathers in order to defend the land of my spirit, of my conscience and my heart -- and I believe that that land is Illinois."
So the answer is NO. Illinois isn't short of blacks who could run. It was just short of blacks who would want to appear as white and privileged as Mr. Keyes is in his loyalty to the GOP.

Still, this is better than Washington State where the GOP challenger for state auditor was found to have 19arrest citations.

If my nose were not so blocked by respiratory infection-induced snot, I suspect I could smell the desperation.

Heh, I want to see Keyes in another mosh pit.

Related to the Previous, International Team Will Observe

Also from CNN:

A team of international observers will monitor the presidential election in November, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was invited to monitor the election by the State Department. The observers will come from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

It will be the first time such a team has been present for a U.S. presidential election.

"The U.S. is obliged to invite us, as all OSCE countries should," spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said. "It's not legally binding, but it's a political commitment. They signed a document 10 years ago to ask OSCE to observe elections."
Let's see how this get weaseled out on, even if grave problems are found (again) in states such as Florida.

Quick: This Poll Won't Be There Long

CNN is asking if international observers should be brought in to monitor the US 2004 Election. Right now, a majority (by 8%) say yes.

Still, CNN has a habit of dumping "less than positive for this administration" polls swiftly.


Is That Prozac In Your Water or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Uh oh:

Traces of the anti-depressant Prozac have been found in Britain's drinking water supply, setting off alarm bells with environmentalists concerned about potentially toxic effects.

The Observer newspaper said Sunday that a report by the government's environment watchdog found Prozac was building up in river systems and groundwater used for drinking supplies.

Israel Approves Hundreds of New West Bank Homes

Israel appears to be taking advantage of our distraction elsewhere (since all these homes would be illegal under our pacts):

Israel was on collision course with its US ally again after it approved the construction of hundreds of new houses in one of the largest and most controversial of the West Bank settlements.

Just days after the government was reprimanded over plans for 600 new homes in the largest of the Jewish settlements, Maale Adumin, news emerged that Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz had signed permits for the construction of the housing units on the western fringes of Ariel.

The Maariv daily reported that the go-ahead for 300 houses, which would be in contravention of the US-backed roadmap for peace plan, was agreed three months ago.

Another "Cry Wolf" Vote Registered

From William O'Rourke in the Chicago Sun-Times:

The first thing to notice about the elevated orange terror alert is that it is confined to Democratic stronghold cities and states. The next is to realize that no battleground states will be subjected to formal elevated alerts, lest the security interruptions sour the swing voters residing therein.

Terror alerts are mini-"October surprises" for this administration, ready to be employed anytime President Bush wants to move the Kerry-Edwards campaign off the front page for a few days. The ''cry wolf'' factor is high. Tom Ridge's claim that his Homeland Security Department ''doesn't do politics" rings hollow, given his political background and the boss he is beholden to. Bush can shout, ''We're a nation in danger'' in the Rose Garden anytime he wishes, but the public may yet conclude that the danger is the president's judgment.

DOJ Hindered Terrorist Prosecutions

Speaking of fouling up things deliberately...

From Yahoo:

Prosecutors in the first major terror trial after Sept. 11 were hindered by superiors from presenting some of their most powerful evidence, including testimony from an al-Qaida leader and video footage showing Osama bin Laden's European operatives casing American landmarks, Justice Department memos show.
If you caught "60 Minutes" tonight, or any of the stories that have run everywhere but CNN, Faux, and MSimbeCile, you know that Sen. Charles Grassley considers former FBI translator, Sibell Edmonds, highly credible when she claims we're deliberating messing up translations by hiring people who can't speak the languages they're translating or leaving large pieces of text untranslated.

The Chalabi Twins (Not to Be Confused with the Bush Twins)

Our great friends, the Chalabis, are now the subject of arrest warrants, including the "neph" in charge of prosecuting Hussein:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq has issued arrest warrants for Ahmad Chalabi, a former Governing Council member with strong U.S. ties, on counterfeiting charges, and for his nephew Salem Chalabi — head of the tribunal trying Saddam Hussein — on murder charges, Iraq's chief investigating judge said Sunday.
We really could not have mishandled this or Iraq worse than we did. It's like foulups were our intent all along. Hmm...

In the "Wow, You Need a Law for This?" Department

From CNN:

Unsolicited toe-licking would be banned in the Netherlands under a law sought by the Dutch Labor party after police were unable to prosecute a would-be Casanova with a taste for female toes because he had committed no crime.
See, I'd take off my heel and whack him someplace sensitive myself.

Alice Cooper's Staples Commercial

I'm sorry, but I adore just about every commercial Alice Cooper has ever done.

I'm not sure I've ever heard his music, but I think I'd sort of like to have him for a neighbor, so long as he doesn't eat snakes in front of me.

Two US Troops Killed in Afghan Blast

The story is here. Their Afghan interpreter was also killed.

Condolences to friends and family members.

Six Lives Taken for an XBox

I'm stunned, appalled, and all that bad stuff.

From CNN:

Authorities in Deltona, Florida, have arrested and charged four people in the killings of six people who were beaten with aluminum baseball bats while in their beds, Volusia County's sheriff said today. The murder was organized by a man who was angry because he believed his Xbox video game system and some clothes had been stolen, said Sheriff Ben Johnson. All four are charged with first-degree murder and armed burglary.

There's another gene I'm missing: the urge to kill. I've had a lot of problems (including a mugging and worse), yet I've never wanted to kill anyone, at anytime, in any fit of rage. I don't think I could kill if my life depended on it, although perhaps I might if it was someone I loved being threatened.

So killing over a damned game console completely eludes me. Six people. Aluminum bats.