Blair: Close Gitmo

Well, as least Tony Blair has extracted his nose from Mr. Bush's anus long enough to admit the obvious: Guantanamo Bay should be closed.

Heaviest Bombing Attacks in Iraq Since Operation Shock and Awe

Or, as Buzzflash refers to this latest madness, "Operation Save Bush's Poll Ratings from the Dumpster".

I Guess the Black Vote Just Isn't Quite As Valued

Not good.

Over the bitter objections of some black leaders, the U.S. Justice Department approved a plan Thursday for New Orleans' first elections since Hurricane Katrina.

The department still needs to approve a few polling place changes but otherwise gave its blessing to plans to hold elections for mayor, City Council and other posts on April 22.

Department officials also said they will send observers to monitor the balloting.

Black leaders have charged that Louisiana officials have not done enough to ensure that voters scattered by the storm will be able to vote. The state plans to set up satellite polling places around the state for New Orleans residents driven from their homes, but chose not to create such stations outside Louisiana.

"Two-thirds of the eligible population has been disenfranchised," the Rev. Jesse Jackson complained after the Justice Department decision. "This is more onerous than the poll tax laws of 1965."
How much more obvious can the Bushies be? The Ohio vote where poorer black precincts were made to wait 8-9 hours to cast a vote? Florida in 2000 and 2004 where the voting rolls were purged to get rid of tens of thousands of black votes? This?

The message is nothing if not clear: if you're black and you're not casting a vote for Bushies, well, they'd just as soon prefer you didn't vote at all; they'll do everything in their power to make sure you don't.


Blogger seems to need a high colonic.

Senators Traitors to US Constitution: Change Law to Make Bush's Illegal Spying "Legal"

From WaPo:

The Bush administration could continue its policy of spying on targeted Americans without obtaining warrants, but only if it justifies the action to a small group of lawmakers, under legislation introduced yesterday by key Republican senators.

The four senators hope to settle the debate over National Security Agency eavesdropping on international communications involving Americans when one of the parties is suspected of terrorist ties. President Bush prompted a months-long uproar when he said that constitutional powers absolve him of the need to seek warrants in such cases, even though the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires warrants for domestic wiretaps.

The program, begun in 2001, was first publicized late last year.

The bill would allow the NSA to eavesdrop, without a warrant, for up to 45 days per case, at which point the Justice Department would have three options. It could drop the surveillance, seek a warrant from FISA's court, or convince a handful of House and Senate members that although there is insufficient evidence for a warrant, continued surveillance "is necessary to protect the United States," according to a summary the four sponsors provided yesterday. They are Mike DeWine (Ohio), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine).
This is nothing short of criminal; these senators should be removed since clearly, they have no understanding or respect for the U.S. Constitution.. and mind you, several of them are so-called "moderate" Republicans.

As Sandra Day O'Connor said recently, we are walking a very fine line in this country between so-called democracy and a full-fledged dictatorship (or in the case of Duck! It's Dick! Cheney, a dick-tatorship).


WaPo: It's Easier to Rig Electronic Voting Machines Than it is to Rig Vegas Slot Machines

Thank you, WaPo! Finally, a major publication acknowledges the effing obvious:

It's easier to rig an electronic voting machine than a Las Vegas slot machine, says University of Pennsylvania visiting professor Steve Freeman. That's because Vegas slots are better monitored and regulated than America's voting machines, Freeman writes in a book out in July that argues, among other things, that President Bush may owe his 2004 win to an unfair vote count. We'll wait to read his book before making a judgment about that. But Freeman has assembled comparisons that suggest Americans protect their vices more than they guard their rights, according to data he presented at an October meeting of the American Statistical Association in Philadelphia.
How to steal an election? Just ask the Bushies. They've very clearly stolen two national ones (2000 and 2004) and perhaps also the 2002 mid-terms.

And we let them. We should be ashamed. No one who kept silent on the issue deserves to wear a silly flag lapel pin or even whisper that he or she is a patriot.

Carbon Dioxide Rates See Alarming Rise (Thank You, George W. Bush!)

From the BBC:

US climate scientists have recorded a significant rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, pushing it to a new record level.

BBC News has learned the latest data shows CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) - 100ppm above the pre-industrial average.

The research indicates that 2005 saw one of the largest increases on record - a rise of 2.6ppm.
The figures are seen as a benchmark for climate scientists around the globe.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has been analysing samples of air taken from all over the world, including America's Rocky Mountains.

The chief carbon dioxide analyst for Noaa says the latest data confirms a worrying trend that recent years have, on average, recorded double the rate of increase from just 30 years ago.
Funny, CNN spent hours covering the sentencing of Carlie Brucia's killer, Joseph Smith, in Florida yesterday but I didn't hear them mention this once.

Bush Administration Rejects Record Number of Hurricane Related Loans for Recovery

Just 35% of hurricane-related loan applications are approved. Want to bet - and stats I've read elsewhere bear this out - that black applicants have an 87% rejection rate?

WASHINGTON - The White House has rejected hurricane disaster-recovery loans at a higher rate than any other administration in the last 15 years, according to a congressional study by Democrats.

The report, expected to be released Wednesday, said business and home loan approval rates averaged about 60 percent after Hurricane Andrew devastated much of south Florida in 1992. The trend continued through the rest of President George H.W. Bush's administration and into the Clinton administration, according to Democratic members of the House Small Business Committee.

After Hurricane Wilma surged ashore in south Florida last year, the approval rate for low-interest, taxpayer-guaranteed loans by the Small Business Administration had dropped to barely 15 percent. Overall, Democrats said, approval rates for home and business disaster loans since 2004 have averaged about 35 percent.

What a Surprise: GE/MSNBC Do Not Like to See Mr. Bush or His Wars Criticized At All

From Media Matters:

    Summary: Keith Olbermann, appearing on C-SPAN, said: "There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all. ... There are people who I work for who would prefer, who would sleep much easier at night if this never happened. On the other hand, if they look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they're happy."
During a March 12 interview with C-SPAN president and chief executive officer Brian Lamb, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann said: "There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE [General Electric Co., NBC's parent corporation], the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all. ... There are people who I work for who would prefer, who would sleep much easier at night if this never happened." He added, "On the other hand, if they look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they're happy."

Olbermann also discussed his relationship to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and claimed: "O'Reilly's agent calls the head of NBC week after week saying, you have got to get Olbermann to stop" criticizing O'Reilly.
O'Reilly can dish it out, but he sure can't take it, can he?

Military Air Strikes WAAAAAAYYYY Up in Iraq

By the way, it's the 1075th day SINCE President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.

Bush: Our Greatest Threat

Now President Bush calls Iran our greatest threat.

Hmmmm.... where have we heard that before?

Could it be Afghanistan? Osama bin Forgotten Laden? Iraq?

How about this:

President George W. Bush is the greatest threat to America and the entire rest of the world!

'Nuff said.

Wonder Why Insurance Rates Are High?

These people may give you a clue... displaying as much chutzpah (well, not quite as much and CERTAINLY not as much industrial use of cosmetics as Florida Congresscreature Katherine Harris who says she's staying in the US Senate race In Fla after accepting oodles of highly questionable money):

LODI, Calif. (AP) -- When a dump truck backed into Curtis Gokey's car, he decided to sue the city for damages. Only thing is, he was the one driving the dump truck. But that minor detail didn't stop Gokey, a Lodi city employee, from filing a $3,600 claim for the December accident, even after admitting the crash was his fault.

After the city denied that claim because Gokey was, in essence, suing himself, he and his wife, Rhonda, decided to file a new claim under her name.

City Attorney Steve Schwabauer said this one also lacks merit because Rhonda Gokey can't sue her own husband.

"You can sue your spouse for divorce, but you can't sue your spouse for negligence," Schwabauer said. "They're a married couple under California law. They're one entity. It's damage to community property."

But Rhonda Gokey insisted she has "the right to sue the city because a city's vehicle damaged my private vehicle."

In fact, her claim, currently pending at Lodi City Hall, is for an even larger amount - $4,800.
Uh huh.

Despite Power-Hungry Bushies, Iraq More in the Dark Than Ever

According to this article in Newsday, the level of sustained electrical power in Iraq - never a problem before we invaded - has now dropped substantially. In other words, Baghdad and other places are often in the dark while we pay shitloads of money to Halliburton and other contractors to run what the evil dictator Saddam managed to supply with no problem.

Gee, why is that?

Spring in Bush's Afghanistan, and the Opium Poppies Have Never Bloomed in Such Record Numbers

Karlo at Swerveleft (hey, Karlo!) has lots of interesting material to ponder, including this:

The U.S. has been in Afghanistan now for years. And the accomplishments?
    About 345,000 acres of poppies are believed to have been planted this year — an increase of up to 40 percent from 2005. The opium is refined into heroin before being smuggled out of the country to meet 90 percent of the world's supply.
In the same article, we find the following interesting comparison:
    Afghanistan's drug traffickers have acted with virtual impunity since U.S.-led forces in 2001 ousted the Taliban, which in its last two years in power enforced a virtual ban on opium cultivation.
A ban? Why aren't the much more powerful U.S. forces banning the drug then?

"Incompetent" Now Used to Identify Bush by Americans

From Think Progress (and high time):

President Bush’s approval rating according to Pew Research. “Just 42% now approve of Bush’s job in handling terrorist threats, an 11-point drop since February.” Also: “Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey ‘incompetent’ is the descriptor used most frequently.”
The honesty thing was always a crock of shit: from the lie about the carefully crafted Crawford Ranch (which, as predicted, Bush has spent a LOT less time at since he was re-selected) to the lies about his cocaine and alcohol abuse, to 9/11 and beyond, honest is a word that should never be used in connection with Dubya.

Under Bushies, Tax Delinquents Are Awarded Lucrative Contracts and Rewarded Rather Than Paying Up

From USA Today, with a nod to TPM Muckraker for pointing to the link:

The Government Accountability Office found more than 3,800 of those GSA contractors had tax debts that totaled about $1.4 billion. That figure may underestimate the amount owed, investigators said, because they did not examine contractors that failed to file tax returns or underreported their income.

The examination of GSA contracts is the third in the panel's series of hearings on contractors that owe federal taxes. The panel's staff said the hearings have identified $7.7 billion in taxes owed by government contractors.

A federal payment levy program that recoups unpaid taxes from delinquent contractors collected about $42 million last year. One contractor has been convicted for tax violations.

"One of the main problems here is that contractors are being allowed into the system in the first place and are being awarded contracts even though they owe taxes," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

[snippy snip]

In one case, a communications equipment contractor got $100,000 in federal payments while owing nearly $900,000 in unpaid taxes. The owner had been convicted of money laundering.

In another, a security services company got $100,000 while owing more than $3 million, mostly in payroll taxes. The owner had several commercial properties and a yacht.

More Surveillance - Apparently Pacifists Are Now Terrorists, Too

Say hello to TPM Muckraker, which brings us stories like this one which barely hit a blip on the corporate media outlet radar today:

The ACLU has posted to the web FBI documents detailing its surveillance of a nonviolent peace group in Pittsburgh, PA. A representative sample, dated Nov. 29, 2002:
    The Thomas Merton Center. . . is a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism.

    TMC holds daily leaflet distribution activities in downtown Pittsburgh and is currently focused on its opposition to the potential war with Iraq.
The report is about as outrageous as any Communists-under-the-floorboards dispatch from the Hoover era. But the real outrage is that it was written just a year out from the 9/11 attacks. Remember, tips were still pouring in about possible terrorist activities from all sources. We were still heeding warnings of a shadowy enemy who could strike at any time.

Amid that climate of immediate fear, at least one FBI special agent was assigned to spending several hours surveilling a political group, taking notes, and typing up reports on what he or she saw.

With Washington's ops centers and situation rooms still reeling with the very real concern of another terrorist attack, how could someone assign an agent several hours of watching (and writing about) a nonviolent political group? How many leads could that agent have run down, if political surveillance was not the priority of his or her superiors?

How Will the Bushies Keep Us Safe from Mad Cow Disease? They'll Cut Testing, That's How

Unbleepingbelievable when we now HAVE a confirmed case of mad cow and we already test just a teensy fraction:

Despite the confirmation of a third case of mad cow disease in the U.S., the American government intends to scale back testing for the brain-wasting disorder blamed for the deaths of more than 150 people in Europe.

The U.S. Agriculture Department boosted its surveillance after finding the first case of mad cow disease in the U.S. in 2003.

About 1,000 tests are run daily, up from about 55 daily in 2003.

The testing program detected an infected cow in Alabama last week and further analysis confirmed Monday the animal had mad cow disease.
And I had to go to Canada to read this. In fact, I now increasingly have to go beyond this country's borders to find real news about this country.

Chris Matthews, Gas Bag and GOP Pocket-Lining Lobbyist Stooge for MSNBC

From the good folks at AmericaBlog and Think Progress (whose material is copied below):

ThinkProgress has learned that NBC anchor Chris Matthews has received tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for delivering speeches to corporate interest groups. Matthews’s speaking engagements appear to be in direct violation of NBC’s policy prohibiting its employees from accepting such fees.

Last week Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest documented Matthews’s speaking engagements, but was unable to confirm whether he was paid.

In 2002, Howard Kurtz reported in the Washington Post:
    I’ve been critical of journalistic buckraking since the mid-1990s, when I wrote about a $30,000 speech that Sam Donaldson had given to an insurance group…The issue began to fade as a number of news organizations, including ABC and NBC, banned the practice.
    Three trade associations independently confirmed to ThinkProgress that Matthews spoke for hefty fees on several occasions, as recently as last year
Chris has these lovely "bipartisan" panels now that consist entirely of right-wing nutcases like Joe (there's a dead female worker in my office but let's not discuss that) Scarborough, Monica (Dick Nixon is the greatest American ever) Crowley, and Tucker (I'm such a shill) Carlson, sometimes balanced out by Pat (I'm a whore and proud of it) Buchanan. Bipartisan? Right.

How Wonderfully Convenient: Big Oil Reserves Found in Afghanistan

Story here:

Two geological basins in northern Afghanistan hold 18 times the oil and triple the natural gas resources previously thought, scientists said Tuesday as part of a U.S. assessment aimed at enticing energy development in the war-torn country.

Nearly 1.6 billion barrels of oil, mostly in the Afghan-Tajik Basin, and about 15.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, mainly in the Amu Darya Basin, could be tapped, said the U.S. Geological Survey and Afghanistan's Ministry of Mines and Industry.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai described the estimates as "very positive findings," particularly since the country now imports most of its energy, including electricity.

"Knowing more about our country's petroleum resources will enable us to take steps to develop our energy potential, which is crucial for our country's growth," said Karzai, whose government was created after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 and later won national elections.

Look at a map and see how Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran fall together. Do you really think it's just coincidence what countries the Bushies target? The Bushies, who all come from oil/energy corporations (including the two George Bush bankrupted, much as he's done to this nation).

And if you don't, would you like another glass of Koolaid? It's great for your teeth and, as I'm sure the Bushies will be quick to tell you, is quite refreshing during those moments when you might otherwise do something silly like think.


More Than 200K Signatures for Censure

While the right mounts a rather vicious campaign against Senator Russ Feingold, Moveon.org received more than 200,000 signatures supporting Censure proceedings against President Bush in just hours.

Censure is the absolute least of what needs to be done here.

If you believe it's time to send this president a loud NO!, go to Moveon and sign the petition.

This Gives the Term Getting Under Your Skin Whole New Meaning

This from the Washington Post on how idiots leap at the chance to have chips implanted for quick access to their medical records. I'm sure they also leap at the chance to shop at Wal-Mart where everything is tracked.

Have you read "Spy Chips" yet or visited the Web site? You should.

The War on Drugs is Being Lost Throughout the World

In the "No Shit, Sherlock" Department and led by a country where the president is a former coke head (we'll assume he's former but I don't know) and the creepy VP is a current drunk.

From Watching America:

Everywhere, the war against drugs is being lost. I refer at least to South America, Central America, Mexico, the United States and Canada - each country, each region, in its own particular way, with its own particular conditions. But not a single one escapes some of the impact of this crime.

The situation in Mexico is very hard to accurately describe, but if one were to indicate a source of Mexico's state of constant deterioration, the main culprit would be the Vicente Fox government, which has left an indelible mark in its last term. The security forces and their military "auxiliaries" have grown to levels never before seen, and yet the level of creativity, of reinforcements and even the ability sustain a fight seem exhausted.

In considering Mexico, it should be emphasized that based on the telling if tall-tales and denunciations, trust continues to be placed in the supposed effectiveness of "casual" operatives, and so the intelligence being garnered has failed to reach the promised level of accuracy. The National Institute for the War Against Drugs, created in 1993 to focus attention on the roots of this problem, was terminated by the Zedillo Administration [1994-2000].

The Center for Drug Control Planning (Cendro), created 15 years ago for the purpose of obtaining and implementing specialized intelligence exclusively about narco-trafficking, was dismantled by the Zedillo government, and converted into a hybrid organization charged with responding to all federal crimes.

Beware the Ides of the March...

Or any other day when Bush is your president and Cheney is allowed anywhere near anything.


Democratic Politicians Should All Just Resign

I'm serious. If their only reason for serving is to collect a big check, even nicer benefits and lobbyist perks, and bend over while they allow themselves - and us - to be sodomized by the Bush Administration, they should resign immediately. And the rest of these politicians should be indicted and tried.

John Kerry will NEVER receive another vote from me. Bernie Sanders is coming close to losing my support for his Senate race with his talk about impeachment being "impractical".

I am not just ashamed, I am appalled, embarrassed, and outraged.

From the UK Guardian:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats distanced themselves Monday from Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold's effort to censure President Bush over domestic spying, preventing a floor vote that could alienate swing voters.

``Some Democrats in Congress have decided the president is the enemy,'' Vice President Dick Cheney told a Republican audience in Feingold's home state.

Feingold, a potential presidential candidate, said on the Senate floor, ``The president has violated the law and Congress must respond.''

``A formal censure by Congress is an appropriate and responsible first step to assure the public that when the president thinks he can violate the law without consequences, Congress has the will to hold him accountable,'' Feingold said.

Even as he spoke, Democratic leaders held off the immediate vote that Majority Leader Bill Frist requested. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he didn't know if there ever would be one. Durbin said that Feingold had sought to use the censure resolution ``as a catalyst'' for thorough hearings and investigations.

The referral averted a debate and a vote that Democrats privately worried would alienate voters who could decide close elections.
Speaking of which, why isn't Bill Frist on trial RIGHT NOW for his unsavory and illegal actions regarding health care stuff that he owned stock in when he should not have?

Bodies, Bodies Everywhere

Imagine what would happen here if bodies of those summarily executed - men, women, and children- turned up through Manhattan or Boston or Slidell, Louisiana, or Austin Texas as they have in Baghdad the last few days.

This is horrific.

And can the blame really lie anywhere else but with this administration's handling of Iraq? Of course, we shouldn't fault DoD Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. After all, the poor many is too busy counting the $5.25 million he's made in recent months on royalty sales of TamiFlu from a deal he worked out when he was doing slick deals with pharmaceutical companies rather than destroying Muslim countries.

But wasn't it nice that the Bushies panicked everyone here about the bird flu so that sales of TamiFlu would go through the roof even where there is virtually no proof that TamiFlu would help much if avian flu strikes here?


America's Three Decades of Support for Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

Vermont Commons covers this issue, taken from the Muckraker Report. Go read.

Can You Guess?

Is our "recognized" per person share of the national debt currently at:

  1. $399.45 per person?
  2. $1,027.12 per person?
  3. $28,000 per person?
  4. $1.3 million per person?
Note that I said "recognized" because much of this stuff is hidden away from us.

Answer below. Don't peek! Only presidents cheat!

Correct answer: c: about $28K per person, of which we all owe about $7K each on Iraq and climbing daily. Make your checks payable to Doofus Incorporated.

Say Hello to

Vermonters First.

Vermont Public Radio, too, will host a discussion Wednesday (noonish?) about the Vermont Blogosphere, featuring Cathy Resmer of 802 Online and Philip Baruch of Vermont Daily Briefing. These are just two of a growing number of excellent blogs in the Green Mountain state where all the maple syrup is Grade A amber and only some of the women have as much facial hair as the men.

I, alas, am a poor Vermonter who owns little in the way of flannel and no long underwear (unless you count my thigh high stockings).

Impeachment and Censure

Odum at Green Mountain Daily posts the results of his impeachment poll (82% in favor) and Russ Feingold's move to bring Censure proceedings against President Bush.

History Burps Back on Itself

On this day in 1925, the great people of the state of Tennessee made it unlawful to teach evolution in schools.

Today, some in Kansas and other places would like to do the same.


Time to Say Goodbye to Joe Lieberman

Today's little ditty where Joe said that Bush's NSA spying is bad but the real problem isn't that he's shitting on the Constitution and instead that the law needs to be changed so Bush can spy on us all legally is another very strong reason why Connecticut needs to get rid of Bush's best Jewish friend, Joe Lieberman.

Right now, however, I think it's time we cleaned out Washington DC of almost all if not all elected officials currently there. We should not be paying the salaries of people who continually do us wrong.

Yes, there are some elected reps I do like. But I think it's time we seriously consider revising the entire system. To do so, none of these old suits can remain.

Will it happen? Nah. People would much rather watch basketball and American Idol than bother to even think about voting.


Milosevic's family is asking for a regal state funeral for this man responsible for the deaths of so many. My immediate question was why isn't his wife, an architect of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, on trial as well?

And why isn't the US on trial for their part in this? We placed Milosevic in power, and he was our great friend until we decided he was our great enemy, which should sound familiar. Think Noriega, Saddam Hussein, and a legion of others.

When do we stop ruining the rest of the world so billionaires here can get richer and richer and America becomes more and more hated throughout the world?

The latter is a rhetorical question, natch.


The Online Free Speech Act

Posted by Duncan at The Blog Herald:

Bloggers from both sides of politics have joined forces to push the Online Freedom of Speech Act (H.R. 1606) through the US Congress.

According to Human Events Online, a bipartisan letter urging members of Congress to vote in favor of passing the bill was sent off this morning. The letter was authored by Michael Krempasky of RedState.com and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of DailyKos.com.

Part of the letter includes:
    H.R. 1606 would preserve the status quo which governed the 2004 election cycle and beyond, one in which a vibrant blogosphere empowered millions of citizens to influence national politics, leveling the effect of wealth on the electoral process, and without any of the corruption which its opponents now fear. Its passage would send a strong message to the Federal Election Commission to tread lightly when it comes to the Internet, telling it that Congress does not wish to stifle online citizen participation in the political process.

    Published reports indicate that, as of February 2006, there are over 14 million weblogs, with approximately 75,000 new blogs are created every day, about one every second. The blogosphere is over 60 times bigger than it was only 3 years ago. With the blogosphere continuing to double in size about every five-and-a-half months, it is simply not possible for any person or entity, no matter how wealthy they may be or how much money they can spend, to dominate or corrupt online political discourse.
Mind you, they cant count. 14 million blogs? Even Technorati managed to track 27 odd million.