Just a Few Rogue Soldiers? BS

According to the ACLU, evidence of horrific abuse by American soldiers and contractors in AfghaniBushistan were purged after the abuse at Abu Ghraib came to light:

Pictures of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing with hooded and bound detainees during mock executions were destroyed after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq to avoid another public outrage, Army documents released Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union show.

The results of an Army probe of the photographs were among hundreds of pages of documents released after the ACLU obtained a federal court order in Manhattan to let it see documents about U.S. treatment of detainees around the world.

The ACLU said the probe shows the rippling effect of the Abu Ghraib scandal and that efforts to humiliate the enemy might have been more widespread than thought.

"It's increasingly clear that members of the military were aware of the allegations of torture and that efforts were taken to erase evidence, to shut down investigations and to humiliate the detainees in an effort to silence them," ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said.

Very Deadly Day in Iraq

More than 50 people killed in various bombings.

Yes, I know. It doesn't count if they are Muslims killed (says the freepers), but still.

Was Jeff Gannon Sanctioned by Karl Rove?

I'd bet my coffee-stained eyeteeth on it. And apparently (at least) Dotty Lynch at CBSnews.com thinks so as well. Here's the start of the piece, but it's worth reading the entire thing:

Tired and timid are two adjectives never applied to Rove. The architect of the Bush victories in 2000 and 2004 came through the ranks of college Republicans with the late Lee Atwater, and their admitted and alleged dirty tricks are the legends many young political operatives dream of pulling off. So when Jeff Gannon, White House "reporter" for Talon "News," was unmasked last week, the leap to a possible Rove connection was unavoidable. Gannon says that he met Rove only once, at a White House Christmas party, and Gannon is kind of small potatoes for Rove at this point in his career.

But Rove's dominance of White House and Republican politics, Gannon's aggressively partisan work and the ease with which he got day passes for the White House press room the past two years make it hard to believe that he wasn't at least implicitly sanctioned by the "boy genius." Rove, who rarely gave on-the-record interviews to the MSM (mainstream media), had time to talk to GOPUSA, which owns Talon.

GOPUSA and Talon are both owned by Bobby Eberle, a Texas Republican and business associate of conservative direct-mail guru Bruce Eberle who says that Bobby is from the "Texas branch of the Eberle clan." Bobby Eberle told The New York Times that he created Talon to build a news service with a conservative slant and "if someone were to see 'GOPUSA,' there's an instant built-in bias there." No kidding.

Some of the real reporters in the White House pressroom were apparently annoyed at Gannon's presence and his softball, partisan questions, but considered him only a minor irritant. One told me he thought of Gannon as a balance for the opinionated liberal questions of Hearst's Helen Thomas. But what Gannon was up to was not just writing opinion columns or using a different technique to get information. He was a player in Republican campaigns and his work in the South Dakota Senate race illustrates the role he played. It is also a classic example of how political operatives are using the brave new world of the Internet and the blogosphere. Gannon and Talon News appear to be mini-Drudge reports; a "news" source which partisans use to put out negative information, get the attention of the bloggers, talk radio and then the MSM in a way that mere press releases are unable to achieve.

World O GOPUSA Crap (Indeed)

From World O Crap (and GOPUSA, you may recall, is the parent company of Talon News and Jeff Gannon's favorite employer besides the men who pay his $1200 weekend rate as "hot military stud for hire"):

Steve Findley, who is on the GOPUSA board of directors, is also the founder and President of Titan Dynamics Systems, which is now a "wholly-owned subsidary of The Allied Defense Group." Besides making military products, Titan Dynamics also offers other services, to include coming to your business and setting up "battlefield effects" for your next "training exercise."

    Full Service BES Missions

    Titan offers hardware, ordinance and personnel as a turnkey package for your next training exercise. Contact us and let our personnel design battlefield effects to meet your exercise objectives. We will set-up and operate the battlefield effects during your training exercise as embedded OPFOR or as out-of-play contractors. Let us support your next training event thus eliminating your workload with on-time, trouble free, superior battlefield effects.

How many people need trouble free, superior battlefield effects for their training exercises these days? (Only Custer Battles and its ilk come to mind.) What the heck are embedded OPFOR? What the heck does this all of this mean? I don't know. But I was impressed by the photo of their personnel dressing up like soldiers and showing off their guns

A Rare Invitation

I've mentioned here that I've been working on a novel about three families in north central Vermont affected by war. It's not my usual venue nor is it a war novel per se.

However, I'm really too close to the work to know whether it's honest, of value, etc. So while agents are asking to look at it - which means possibly that publishers may start to see it soon - I thought I would ask if anyone within this reading audience might be willing to read and critique a few chapters.

Please don't feel obligated. I don't have a shortage of readers willing (thankfully), but many know me too well personally that it may be harder for them to see beyond me as the author. And I'll be honest upfront that not all the feedback is wildly positive (some is, some is not). Nor is this book meant to change people's politics regarding this war; rather, it's an attempt to show how lives are being affected here in Vermont - the state who has given the most young men and women to this war, and lost the most per capita because of it - and look at the divisions created by it.

If you are honestly interested and have the time (and can read Word files), drop me a mail at katejchase at intergate.com. Let me know when you write how many chapters you feel you could comfortably read in a week's time.

All I ask - besides your time - is your honest criticism as a reader. You don't need to be a literary critic.

Thank you.

Bleepity Bleeping Bleeper Bleep

Somebody highjacked one of my links today screwing up the entire blog format. I think I've got it temporarily back to normal but when I get my hands on the person who decided they could hijack a blog to run a full page ad I'm going to temporarily waive my pacifist tendencies to wrap his testicles (the very small ones he surely has) up over his ears.


Congratulations, Taxpayers!

Your tax dollars will be spent sending Rush Limbaugh on a "diplomatic" mission to Afghanistan. Hell, we'll also probably have to pick up the cost for his weight in OxyContin to go with him.

He makes hundreds of millions a year. He's no diplomat. He certainly doesn't represent a huge chunk of America (except in his girth).

But we'll pay the bill.

John Negroponte: The Man People Can't Praise Enough

His selection as spy-in-chief is very curious. But even more bewildering is the praise piled upon the man by Dems, GOPs, and media alike.

Negroponte is not a clean man. By that, I don't mean he forgets to wipe after using the bathroom or doesn't wash his hands. From dead nuns in Honduras to some real questions about his role in drug movement between countries, et al, Negroponte is a purely political pick, someone Bush chose for a position he feels was forced on him by the 9/11 commission and which he chooses to fill with someone who will do and say just what Bush wants. Which, of course, will NOT be good for American safety... or the safety of anyone else, for that matter. A CNN poll has 77% of respondents saying this new position, as filled, will NOT make America safer. But the poll was up early, perhaps before people had their Koolaid jugs filled for the day.

Dig deeper, folks. Start looking at Negroponte. The mainstream media won't.

From nephalim at DailyKos:

With Negroponte's nomination for the new intelligence czar post, this diary holds extra meaning. I hope I will not dissapoint. I will specifically mention Negroponte several times, as well as several others you will recognize.

Today we are going to get really down and dirty. No short history lessons on the CIA during the Cold War. Today the CIA will be effectively selling crack. And tomorrow the CIA will be propping up the very "terrorists" we are currently fighting.

More Flotsam from the Bush Bizarro World

I got this in my e-mail box this morning as a writing lead. Does anyone else find this... oh... hinky?

Freelance reporters for Homeland Security drill
Reporters wanted to participate in press component of Department of Homeland Security's TOPOFF 3 exercise for senior U.S. and local officials simulating a terrorist attack on the United States. Those selected will write copy for online news service reporting events within the exercise for an audience of exercise participants. This position will require seasoned reporters who can write quickly, using AP style, meeting tight deadlines, as if they were covering an actual incident for an actual online news service. Ideal candidates will be reporters with daily or wire experience who can write wire-style stories accurately, completely and quickly. You must NOT be currently employed by a real news organization and will be required to sign a nondisclosure agreement barring you from writing about this in the future. Those selected will be working in Conn., N.J., and/or Washington D.C. The work will start around March 14 and go for 3 to 4 weeks at competitive pay rates. Send cover letter, resume, and three clips via e-mail to: xxxxxx.xxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx.


Bigotry in God's Name

The far Christian right is offering a package deal to the president: they'll support his brand of Social Security reform but only if he forces through a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Even a fellow from the Cato Institute talking on NPR's "Fresh Air" today who was there to argue for SS reform who very appropriately pegged this Christian right measure as bigotry.

Bush can try for the constitutional amendment but at last check, the idea of amending the constitution - which he and his crew have not treated with the respect it deserves - was not too popular even among Americans uncomfortable with gay marriage. States would have to ratify such a change and I'm not sure that even in Dubya's America, there exist quite enough hate mongerers to do that. Social conservatives like Bob Barr, for example, don't like gay marriage but are opposed to changing the constitution. I know several social conservatives who feel likewise.

Sure, there are the nutcases who would, like Alan Keyes who disowned his lesbian daughter for being - oh golly gosh - a lesbian. He's not alone. I know there are people in my state of Vermont who would go for this, the same who felt that allowing gays to enter into civil unions would ruin society as we knew it.

But truth be told, allowing gays to have civil unions here has really changed the fabric of society here very little. If anything, I would argue that it has improved things here. More couples seem to feel they no longer have to hide. But they're the same responsible, tax-paying citizens they've always been. Slowly, you've heard some of the hateful rhetoric against them quiet down.

Must Read

Frank Rich's piece of Gannon/Guckert and why it matters so much.


Superstar (cough) Sickness

Imagine if you're a normal mortal and you get a little touch of flu the day you're supposed to go to court. Think the judge would give you a whole week off while the poor schleps waiting on jury duty get their lives put on hold? Nah.

Michael Jackson's really got to stop getting himself brought to court because this poor delicate creature just always ends up under doctor's care. My heart just bleeds.

And then there's the news that JLo cancelled a benefit performance because of an unspecified illness. I suspect her illness is that she realized the performance was supposed to benefit someone other than herself (tsunami relief). It's not like she can sing so what's the big deal?

Jeff Gannon Exposed (In Far TOOOOO Many Ways)

From Keith Olbermann:

And number one, the former news semi reporter, formerly known as Jeff Gannon, really James Guckert, a blogger has gotten into one of those adult themed Web site registered to the same person who owned Mr. Cannon‘s personal Web site. And there‘s some photos of Mr. Gannon. And there are 43 photos of Mr. Gannon, and he‘s not wearing too many clothes. But he is showing the highest journalistic skills, the stiffest reportorial standard, but unfortunately, rather a lot dangling participles

The Real Dean

As someone who lived under Howard Dean's government, this makes perfect sense to me.

From Paul Krugman on Tuesday:

The Republicans know the America they want, and they are not afraid to use any means to get there," Howard Dean said in accepting the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. "But there is something that this administration and the Republican Party are very afraid of. It is that we may actually begin fighting for what we believe."

Those words tell us what the selection of Mr. Dean means. It doesn't represent a turn to the left: Mr. Dean is squarely in the center of his party on issues like health care and national defense. Instead, Mr. Dean's political rejuvenation reflects the new ascendancy within the party of fighting moderates, the Democrats who believe that they must defend their principles aggressively against the right-wing radicals who have taken over Congress and the White House.

Abstinence Only = Stupid Kids

One of those rare times I agree with Nick Kristof:

for all the carnage in President Bush's budget, one program is being showered with additional cash - almost three times as much as it got in 2001. It's "abstinence only" sex education, and the best research suggests that it will cost far more lives than the Clinton administration's much more notorious sex scandal.

Mr. Bush means well. But "abstinence only" is a misnomer that in practice is an assault on sex education itself. There's a good deal of evidence that the result will not be more young rosy-cheeked virgins - it will be more pregnancies, abortions, gonorrhea and deaths from AIDS.
Studies are showing us the phenomenal failure of abstinence-only education while the relative success of true sex education programs, all of which cover abstinence.

But just as with Condi's poor performance (and his own), Bush feels the biggest rewards go to those who have failed the most. Sigh.

Of course, what we really need to abstain from is Bush and his cronies.

New Poll Up

The last poll about the Iraqi elections netted these results:

64% - (election was just another Bush Administration shell game)
27% - (election was an encouraging display of democracy)

I Second the Farmer

(Although I fear this may bring out the Ann Coulter in me, although, unlike Ann, I was born female.)

From the Farmer at Corrente:

And while I'm at it; here's a suggestion for the cloistered prophets at the New York Times: drive Bobolink Brooks over to New Jersey, tie Judith Miller around his neck, and fling em both off a jetty into Sandy Hook Bay. Ok? Good idea? I don't know you, you don't know me, we didn't hear anything about it around here. Just sayin'.


The Jeff Gannon Poll to Die for..er... Fly to

You must, you simply must go take the Corrente crew's poll on Jeff Gannon/aka Jimmy D/aka Hot Gay Stud Muffin for Rent/aka Dubya's favorite journalist. It starts like so:

If Jeff JD Gannon Guckert were a bird he would be a:
Just imagine the possibilities here.

I'm leaning toward the Bald Pated Bushtit myself.

Common Ground Seeks State Leaders

Go here to check it out.

The Dollar Plummets

DailyRead has a post up about one of my favorite topics - that Americans drinking the Koolaid fail to notice what's happening to the US Dollar in George Bush's economy:

In January 2003, the US Dollar was exchanging at 94 cents to one Euro, in December 2003, it was 81 cents.

Today the US economy has rebounded to show the US Dollar exchanging at 77 cents to one Euro.

As I watch the hearings and read the news stories on the proposals for saving Social Security, I am reminded of the now familiar process of audio and visual delusion being hammered into place by all the experts on various radio and television talk shows.

If you are allergic to smoke, you might opt for an extra pair of underpants for a while.
Actually, I went to three pairs of underpants when Bush was first selected. I'll need to own stock in Depends soon which will probably have to substitute for my SS benefit.

More on Depleted Uranium

As you may recall, I pointed you to the excellent discourse on dailyread's Trailing Edge Blog a week or so ago. Now Karlo (after kindly counseling me on my negativism) at SwerveLeft offers more:

A few comments back, Delftsman questioned the dangers of DU armor-piercing shells. I recommend the doubters take a look at the following article (a bit dated now) by Scott Peterson. Visiting various sites (some randomly chosen), investigators found significant radiation from the 75 tons of DU the U.S. used in Iraq. At one site, radiation exceeded 1,300 times that of background levels. The article mentions the fact that "six American vehicles struck with DU friendly fire in 1991 were deemed to be too contaminated to take home, and were buried in Saudi Arabia. Of 16 more brought back to a purpose-built facility in South Carolina, six had to be buried in a low-level radioactive waste dump." It doesn't sound like the sort of things you'd want your children playing around after dinner.

Big, Bad, Bogus FDA

So the FDA is planning on creating yet another group to look at drug safety. But that's what the FDA is supposed to be doing anyway instead of becoming solely a shill for drug companies (I make this point in my book, "Buying Drugs Online: Avoiding a Prescription for Disaster" now available in book stores).

And then there's the story of a scientist who felt bullied by the FDA to prevent him from presenting information about the connection between NSAID drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex and heart disease. I'd point you to this story I read on CNN this morning but - lo and behold - it's magically missing now. When I found the link in my browser history, I'm told it's dead. Hmm.

If you think the FDA is there to protect you, stop. They exist to protect PHRMA and others. You just pay the bills.

Syria and the WH's Response

One of the beauties of the Bush WH is that they never have to prove any of their claims or justify any of their actions. Such is the case today as Washington recalled its envoy to Syria based on specious charges by the WH that Syria as a nation is responsible for the death of Lebanon's former prime minister.

Pesky First Amendment Details

A judge has ruled that Judith ("I'm so important, ask Rummy and Chalabi") Miller of The Times and Matthew Cooper of Time Mag have no 1st Amendment protection against having to answer questions into the CIA/Plamegate leak.

As a journalist myself (and let me be clear that here, as I've said before, I operate not as a journalist but a blogger), this hits me as wrong but with some subtle areas of gray I'll mention momentarily. Why are journalists held to a different standard than Robert Novak, the one who published the outing of Plame, who is a commentator rather than a journalist, or WH officials who've obfuscated, or Jeff Gannon, the so-called journalist/gay male prostitute, questioned in the CIA memo/leak but allowed to continue to lob soft balls at Scottie McClellan and Bush with official WH sanction?

As a citizen who feels that the outing of Plame was so far beyond the pale and done out of spite for what Plame's husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had reported about Niger's "yellow cake" debacle, I feel quite differently. I WANT to get to the details of who outed Plame (the truth, as opposed to what the WH spins).

But man does this matter ever have gray areas.

There's the Judith Miller shade of gray in which Miller lied and lied and lied to make this administration's case for war in Iraq. Personally, if a grand jury wants to administer an enema and colonoscopy to her live on the Fox News Network (there's an oxymoron), I'd happily tune in. Miller's advocacy on behalf of the neo-cons and the Bush WH renders her, IMHO, a non journalist. So let her hang.

But re: Cooper, I'm more inclined to feel that he should not have to hang (so to speak) to be forced to tell the truth that no one else will. Journalists are not supposed to be treated (or accept assignments) as intelligence operatives and WH shills.

By having the investigators and courts constantly turn the emphasis and responsibility back to the journalists, I have no doubt they make the Administration happy because it takes the heat off them. Yet heat should very much be on them... and hate-mongerer Bobby Boy Novak, too.

This tactic also works well, I'm sure, in making sure we don't have any brave men or women in the press corps actually do their jobs of questioning what this Administration is doing out of fear they'll be subpoenaed to death and face prison if they don't spill. So instead, we get Jeff Gannons, who take time away from posing for nude cock shots and advertising his services as a male stud for hire, to attend WH press conferences. When he finally gets caught (and remember, it wasn't the press itself who outed him but bloggers), he makes up delusional comments about threats to his family and no journalist asks him to back this up with evidence.

Bottom line: I see this less as a First Amendment issue that a combination of trying to be sure we don't resolve Plamegate, of shutting journalists up, and allowing lies and outings from people like Novak to go unchallenged.

Bush's Star Wars Systems Scores Another F-

Doesn't matter that its cost would fund SS and education for many years to come - even though Bush's missile defense system tests have flunked every damned time, he won't withdraw the plan.

Of course, CNN spins these non-successes differently. In the past, when the tests also failed severely, the govmint used to say they were "spectacular successes" within certain "core" criteria. Meaning, I guess, that somebody spelled the name of the test right in paperwork or that each failure that got Bush's "yahoo!" netted Karl Rove another campaign check.

One Final VD Thought

Uh... as in Valentine's Day.

Do you think Condi made a sweet little heart to present to her hus... president?

And quite a dark little heart at that. Think Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and then take the evil up a few thousand times.


Free Snow

(No, Mr. Bush, not that kind of snow. Please do not apply.)

Free to a good home: 24" of snow and still falling. Just come and take it with you. Bring a flat bed. Do so before the dogs come by tomorrow and it all turns yellow.

Arthur Miller

Another great passes. Again, I haven't posted because I've been rather devastated.

If you haven't read "All My Sons", it's really required reading during the Bush Administration and Condi's diplomacy by bomb. Just FYI, that work was one of many factors making me the person I am today, feeling the way I do about war and defense contractors and all that goes on beyond sending our soldiers to war.

"The Crucible" was very telling about the McCarthy era, but becoming very appropriate to read again today while so many voices are being silenced in the name of patriotism Bush style. My family was historically part of the region and the time period depicted in colonial New England in "The Crucible" but this work also helped educate me tremendously about religious and political intolerance and the damage that can be done by those who invoke God to inflict hate.

My sometime-neighbor here in Vermont, David Mamet, has an excellent piece in The Times on Miller.