Bush: One Wildly Expensive, Covered-Up Failure After Another; This One, Missile Command

No shame, no shame whatsoever with this crew:

A senior Congressional investigator has accused his agency of covering up a scientific fraud among builders of a $26 billion system meant to shield the nation from nuclear attack. The disputed weapon is the centerpiece of the Bush administration's antimissile plan, which is expected to cost more than $250 billion over the next two decades.

The investigator, Subrata Ghoshroy of the Government Accountability Office, led technical analyses of a prototype warhead for the antimissile weapon in an 18-month study, winning awards for his "great care" and "tremendous skill and patience."

Mr. Ghoshroy now says his agency ignored evidence that the two main contractors had doctored data, skewed test results and made false statements in a 2002 report that credited the contractors with revealing the warhead's failings to the government.

The agency strongly denied his accusations, insisting that its antimissile report was impartial and that it was right to exonerate the contractors of a coverup.

The dispute is unusual. Rarely in the 85-year history of the G.A.O., an investigative arm of Congress with a reputation for nonpartisan accuracy, has a dissenter emerged publicly from its ranks.

And Mr. Ghoshroy's assertions raise new questions about the Boeing Company's military arm, the main contractor for the troubled $26 billion system of interceptor rockets now being installed in Alaska and California. The system's "kill vehicles" are to zoom into space and destroy enemy warheads by force of impact.

But years of test failures have thrown the program into disarray, and the military has recently begun to look for a kill vehicle of greater reliability.

Charles Taylor and the "Great" Christian, Pat Robertson

So many times this week, we've heard about the horrors committed during Charles Taylor's reign in Monrovia and elsewhere. Never, though, did I hear a single outlet tie him back to Pat Robertson who was not only a Taylor supporter (Taylor let him smuggle diamonds and shit out) but a business associate.

Dick Cheney's Halliburton Shows Nothing But Contempt for Efforts to Keep Its Fraud of US Taxpayers to a Minimum

Isn't it time to get rid of Bush-Cheney and tax dollar cheats like Halliburton and KBR?

From the LA Times:

WASHINGTON — Frustrated government auditors pleaded, cajoled and finally threatened Halliburton Co. executives who repeatedly failed to comply with government reporting requirements under a key Iraq contract with a $1.2-billion potential price tag, newly released documents show.

The documents, along with a report, were issued Tuesday by the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Government Reform. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) had requested the report on the contract, considered crucial to the restoration of oil production capacity in southern Iraq.

The 15-page report cites findings by auditors that Halliburton overcharged — "apparently intentionally" — on the contract by using hidden calculations, and attempted in one instance to bill the government for $26 million in costs it did not incur. Auditors also challenged $45 million in other costs, labeling them as "unreasonable or unsupported," the report said.

The report blamed the Department of Defense for awarding the contract despite warnings from auditors that Halliburton's cost estimating system had "significant deficiencies." Although federal officials have criticized the company and threatened to cancel its contracts, Halliburton remains the largest private contractor in Iraq.

The contract, awarded in January 2004, was one of three Iraq pacts for the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney

Britain About to Start "Secret" Talks in Prep for a US-Led Attack on Iran

Sadly, this is apparently NOT an April Fool's joke:

The Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.

A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.

It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment programme.

From the UK Independent: Prepare for Six Permanent US Military Bases in Iraq

Wow, Bush can kill off soldiers and keep Iraq destabilized for generations to come.

Bring 'em on, eh, Dubya?

Schumer: Bill to Fast Track Suits Related to Illegal NSA Spying

Story here.

Experts Say Bush-Rumsfeld's Damage to Military Will Take Years to Repair

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Anyone else might be embarrassed when not one but two detailed studies of the way he's doing business conclude that his plans and assumptions are totally wrong, but not Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

A recent Rand Corp. study commissioned by the Pentagon of the U.S. Army in this time of war concluded that without an increase in manpower the Army ''simply cannot sustain the force levels needed to break the back of the insurgent movement'' in Iraq.

Yet another study, conducted by the Defense Department's own Institute for Defense Analyses, concluded that the Army's Transformation program, intended to add combat brigades without boosting manpower, cuts the number of maneuver battalions in those brigades while adding more headquarters troops.

''The essence of land power is resident in the maneuver battalions that occupy terrain, control populations and fight battles, not in headquarters and enablers,'' the IDA study said. ''Yet the Army plan reduces the number of maneuver battalions by 20 percent below the number available in 2003, while increasing headquarters by 11.5 percent.''

The IDA study noted that under the Army plan, now well under way, the number of infantry battalions in infantry brigades and the number of armor battalions in armor brigades had been cut from three to two.

GOP Walkout in Maryland

Remember when the Dems in Texas walked out because Tom DeLay's folks railroaded through a disastrous redistricting plan? The rabid wing of the GOP party savaged those Dems for doing so, calling them whiny cry babies and telling them they were crap for not standing up and staying put.

Well, gosh... now the Maryland GOP has done the same thing. Of course, they are NOT criticizing themselves because... you know... they're sure they aren't whiny cry babies but principled people. Cough.

Republicans in the Maryland Senate unplugged their computers, picked up their belongings and marched out of the chamber yesterday afternoon in protest of a frantic push by Democrats to pass a stack of hotly contested bills.

Infuriated members strode up the marble State House staircase to the offices of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who applauded them for the rare walkout and declared that four years of "monopoly frustration has come to a head."
They're frustrated by four years of monopoly behavior? Really? Because we've put up with in for ages now under Bush-Cheney-Frist-Hastert-DeLay and we're simply told to shut up and "get over it".

Devastation from Iran Earthquake

I suppose we won't be sending aid to Iran unless Condi decides nuclear bunker busters count as humanitarian help.

A Beautiful Sight on the Brooklyn Bridge Today

People who remember what America is supposed to be, and joined those who would like to have the ability to become Americans themselves.

So the Military Lied

Remember the US military attack on a mosque last weekend? Early pictures showed a mosque. But then the military said it had never attacked a mosque or religious shrine, that this was all made up... those who had seen the pictures were supposed to forget we had. But meanwhile, other countries were protesting the US actions because they believed a mosque had been hit, too.

Well, sure 'nuff, the military DID attack a mosque... now they agree they did and say it was supposed to be a warning. From US News:

The U.S. military was trying to send a "little reality jab" to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr when American and Iraqi troops raided a Shiite community center and shrine over the weekend, says a top U.S. military official.

The joint assault killed at least 16 people, most of them believed to be tied to Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army. U.S. officials insist the center was being used as a base for insurgent activities and was not a mosque. But many Iraqis say the complex did indeed include the Shiite equivalent of a mosque, and the raid has drawn harsh condemnation from Shiite politicians and prompted Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, to launch an investigation.

The mayor of Baghdad promptly cut off cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, and Shiite politicians suspended their negotiations to form a new government. The U.S. military has long contemplated taking tougher steps against Sadr and his troublesome militia but has held off in the past because it did not want to antagonize his many fervent supporters. This raid, officials say, was intended as a reminder to Sadr of the U.S. military's reach in Iraq.

U.S. officials had been quietly praising Sadr's group in recent weeks because of its calls for calm in the wake of the bombing of a Sunni mosque in Samarra that sparked a wave of sectarian violence.
A lie is a lie is a lie is a lie.

Katherine Harris Campaign Seems More Like Titanic Than Good Ship Lollipop


The last of U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' key staffers appear ready to abandon her campaign for the U.S. Senate in a wave of resignations expected to start this weekend.Sources close to the campaign said Friday that the defections would touch virtually every level of her operation.

Harris, who is running against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, is likely to lose her chief political strategist, her campaign manager, her spokeswoman, her director of field operations and even a traveling aide who helps hand out stickers at campaign appearances.It is the latest and most dramatic indication so far that her campaign is on the verge of collapse."I've never seen staffers go like this," said David Johnson, a Republican pollster and consultant. "It's just imploding."

Calls and e-mails to the campaign were not returned Friday night, but sources said Harris met with staffers earlier in the day to tell them she would be hiring new people to replace those who had already left.Campaign workers could stay, she said, but they would have to recommit themselves to the Senate race. She gave them until 5 p.m. Sunday to decide.
Can't happen to a nicer lipstick-wearing swine.

Compare "Can't Criticize Bush" Policy to Treatment of Cynthia McKinney

Now I'm not a huge Cynthia McKinney fan. I think she too often speaks first, thinks later (a practice I'm guilty of myself).

But, although she was pushed out after 9/11, her constituents brought her back to the House. They have that right.

This week, a rumpus turned into a bigger one when McKinney supposedly went through House security without properly displaying her ID. A Capitol police officer chased her down. What happened next is open to some conjecture. McKinney says she was "touched inappropriately".

But the far right is, as usual, displaying its barely concealed hatred for anyone of color who does not pull the Uncle Clarence Thomas "love them whities" routine. They've called her a nut, a mental case, and even a "ghetto slut" because she says her rights were violated. Rita Cosby - who really has no right to call anyone names considering she's a no talent moose-voiced lard ass - was hinting at similar phrases when she was on Hardball last night with Chris Matthews.

The contempt these folks hold for anyone of color just amazes me. A lot of real righty Reps really can't see why we don't have separate drinking fountains and can't understand why Rosa Parks got buses desegregated. And that's part of what's behind the No Child Left Behind/Charter School programs - if kids of color have to be in public schools, then let's kill the public schools.

Very sad, but I think true.

Gee, I Find Mr. Bush a Bit Nauseating Myself

But you simply can't criticize the man who criticizes everyone else:

ABC News suspended the executive producer of the weekend edition of "Good Morning America" yesterday over a pair of leaked e-mails in which he used inflammatory language to slam President Bush and Madeleine Albright.

John Green, whose unpaid suspension will last one month, apologized to the White House in a call to communications director Nicolle Wallace, while two ABC executives called the former secretary of state to apologize.

"No one is sorrier than John for the embarrassment that these albeit private e-mails caused to his colleagues and to the people who were the subjects of those comments," said ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider. "John would be the first to say this has been a real lesson to him. John is abjectly sorry for all the comments that have come to light, and that's appropriate."

In one of the e-mails, written during the first presidential debate in 2004 and leaked to the Drudge Report, Green wrote to a colleague on his BlackBerry: "Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke."

Scary Stuff: Blackwater USA, Mercenaries for Hire

Also found this at Think Progress, which I find even more repellant than Jonah Goldberg who is great for any weight loss plan:

This week at a conference in Jordan, Blackwater USA vice chairman Cofer Black announced that the private security company is ready to shift from a security role to a more “overt combat role,” essentially becoming an army for hire.

The Bush administration has shown itself more than willing to call in Blackwater in place of U.S. troops.

In Aug. 2003, the Bush administration awarded Blackwater a $21.3 million contract to guard then Amb. Paul Bremer. The average senior special operations officer makes $50,000 a year from the U.S. government. Employees in private security firms in Iraq often make more than $1,000 a day from government contracts. This arrangement is “depleting the ranks of the special forces,” luring them into lucrative private jobs.

Some military analysts initially welcomed the administration’s private security arrangement with Blackwater because it allowed “regular military troops to concentrate on fighting.” But Blackwater’s new proposal would shift some of the fighting to the private sector, further diminishing the role of the all-volunteer army.
Remember, what Blackwater does will be the responsibility of the American people. There is every bit of evidence that the mess in Fallujah began by Blackwater shooting up civilians and being ham-handed, which ultimately resulted in the four contractors being hung by their feet from a bridge, and then we went in and committed atrocities in Fallujah as payback.

This is NOT good.

The U.S. Economy: Faux News Vs. Reality

Following up the previous post from David Sirota, here is this about Faux... er... Fox News deliberately misleading the public about the U.S. economy, starting with a transcript from Fox, posted at Think Progress:

    But according to a new survey, 59 percent have bought into that crackpot notion. They rate it [the economy] as bad, very bad, or terrible, in fact, when all the facts say that just the opposite is true. So, where are the folks getting this image? My next guest says look no further than the liberal media. Larry, it’s media making the people thank the economy stinks, is that right?
But the polls don’t reflect media manipulation. Americans see the real state of the economy in their everyday lives:

Record Profits for Some But Workers' Share Hits 40-Year Low

Posted by the ever-vigilant David Sirota who has a book- Hostile Takeover - coming out soon:

As I noted last week, media pundits like Sam Donaldson simply cannot understand why polls show the public is so down on the economic direction of our country. These commentators - who are supposed to reflect the true pulse of America - look at today's Wall Street Journal headline blaring that "Corporate Pretax Profits Jump 14.4% - Strongest Gain Since 1992" and wonder: why, oh dear god why, aren't ordinary Americans aren't jumping with joy?

The answer, as I note in my upcoming book Hostile Takeover, is simple: if you take the five seconds it takes to actually look at the underlying data, you see that those profits aren't actually benefitting ordinary workers - they are increasingly benefitting only those at the very top of the economic ladder.

John Dean: Presidential Censure

Read it here at Raw Story.

Brit PM Tony Blair Will Resign By Christmas

As you may recall, he just barely won re-election less than a year ago. From the London Telegraph:

Tony Blair is to announce his resignation by Christmas, members of his inner circle believe.

The disclosure comes as John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, agreed to try to broker an agreement between Mr Blair and back-bench MPs over the succession after being warned that uncertainty about the leadership is having a disastrous effect on Labour morale.

Joan Ruddock, a former minister, raised the issue of the succession, including the timing of Mr Blair's departure, with Mr Prescott at a meeting of Labour's parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Can't we retire Dubya and Duck! It's Dick! too?

Jesus Would Suffer Under George W. Bush as Well

This cartoon at Harper's says a great deal in one single panel.


Sad, But Oh So Honest

Lifted shamelessly from Mr. Natural at the splendidly honest Left Edge North:

Our Belubbed Leader's Resume

Karlo at SwerveLeft has posted the best, most flattering resume I have ever read for our befuddled smirker president, Mr. Bush.

Go here (you know you want to, you really do).

Past Work Experience
Ran for congress and lost.

Produced a Hollywood slasher B movie.

Bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas; company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

Bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. Biggest move: Traded Sammy Sosa to the Chicago White Sox.

With father's help (and his name) was elected Governor of Texas.

Accomplishments in Previous Positions

Changed pollution laws for power and oil companies and made Texas the most polluted state in the Union.

Replaced Los Angeles with Houston as the most smog-ridden city in America. Cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas government to the tune of billions in borrowed money.

Set record for most executions by any governor in American history.

More White House Staff Shakeup

Cough (from the Borowitz Report):

Attempting to answer the calls within his own party to shake up his beleaguered administration, President George W. Bush today ousted the White House pastry chef and pronounced the shakeup complete. “There have been many Republicans in Congress who have been calling upon me to do something drastic,” Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House.

“I am convinced that by firing the pastry chef, we have fixed the problems.” Mr. Bush, while declining to “play the blame game,” indicated that after much consideration he had concluded that the White House pastry chef was at the root of most of the problems of his administration.

“Let’s face it, during the run-up to the war in Iraq, there was all of that talk about weapons of mass destruction, and the pastry chef didn’t say anything about it,” Mr. Bush said. “If he knew that the intelligence was faulty, he should have spoken up.”

The president added that the pastry chef was “slow to act” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: “Basically, he was just in the kitchen baking the whole time.”

While Mr. Bush said that firing the White House pastry chef would probably solve all of the problems plaguing his administration of late, he was not afraid to take future action if warranted.

“I am fully prepared to fire the person who waters the plants around here,” Mr. Bush said.
Well, it will certainly make as much difference as replacing Andy Card with Josh Bolten, meaning, not at all.

Talk About Corporate Welfare Taken to the Nth Power Under the Bushies

Also from AmericaBlog:

The Bush DHS is using tax dollars to subsidize a Fortune 500 oil company. Not kidding. ONE MILLION DOLLARS for a FORTUNE 500 refinery. That's what we learn from Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's report from February, 2006 (page 21):
    For example, a Fortune 500 refinery received a port security grant in round five totaling almost $1 million for fencing and surveillance upgrades at a refinery located in a major port. It did put up the same amount in matching funds.

    This company recently reported 3rd quarter net income in excess of $1.2 billion. We remained concerned about the absence of more specific guidance on security measures proposed by private companies that are capable of paying for them, and what measures they should pay for.
Now, which Fortune 500 company -- with 3rd quarter net income of $1.2 billion -- needed tax dollars to build a fence? The GOP loves corporate welfare -- but giving tax dollars to oil companies is a new low.

Scalia's F-You Photog Fired

AmericaBlog informs us the photographer who snapped the picture of Supreme Court (In)Justice Scalia gesticulating the F word to his critics has been fired.

Of the two people involved here, I think one should be held to a much higher standard and perhaps relieved of his duties. It's now, however, the photographer.

Yet More Preposterous Claims About Jill Carroll

Now the repugnant right is stepping up their vile crap about released hostage journalist, Jill Carroll.

Not only is she suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, they allege, she's quite possibly:

  • a traitor to this country
  • a Jane Fonda wannabe
  • an al Qaeda operative
  • on the payroll of the insurgency
  • someone whose citizenship should be revoked
Vile, vile people.

Lou Dobbs Day? Perish the Thought

The General discusses illegal aliens (from Mexico, not Mars), Lou Dobbs, and immigration:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds periodical roundups of these workers. Usually they occur on the heels of the harvest and are targeted at farmworkers. Occasionally, one of the many canneries in the area is hit, but only when the workers get too uppity and start talking to union organizers.

The roundups are always elaborately planned and very efficiently carried out. The workers are picked up, held at a temporary facility for a day or two before appearing at an assembly line style hearing, and then sent straight to Mexico (most of our farmworkers come from two Mexican states, Michoacán and Jalisco).

A new roundup began on Tuesday. It's very different from previous ones. Immigration's already hit more than one cannery and, according to Ofjoshua's sources at ICE, they plan to continue raiding canneries through Friday. They've also added restaurants to their list for the first time.

The strangest thing about it is that they aren't holding anyone. They're photographing and fingerprinting them and then picking up their families for similar treatment before letting everyone go. From what I understand, it's as well planned and efficient as every other roundup, except they've done away with the detention, hearings, and deportation.I can't quite figure out why they're doing it this way, but I have to wonder if it's all prep for some kind of Lou Dobbs Day when thousands of illegals are gathered up all across the country to serve as props for one of Our Leader's glorious media events.

The Right's Attack on Jill Carroll

It sure didn't take long for the pond scum right like John Podhoretz to treat freed captive journalist Jill Carroll after she had the *nerve* to say she was treated humanely by her abductors. And just as Podhoretz said, the talking heads on TV tonight are using phrases like Stockholm Syndrome and such to discredit her words.

These people make me way past ill.

Judge Criticizes Post 9-11 Intelligence Overhaul

Government intelligence has become even more of an oxymoron, but this judge says we have gone way over the top and with poor results.

Predatory Lending, Brought to You By Predatory Lobbyists Who Buy Our Politicians

From David Sirota (go here to read it in full):

Last year, I noted how the most bought-off forces in Congress were trying to follow up their passage of the credit card industry-written bankruptcy bill with a new bill to open the door to all sorts of predatory lending practices.

Specifically, the bill would invalidate state laws regulating predatory lending - yet another move by a supposedly conservative federal government to usurp state power. That bill is being spearheaded by Ohio Rep. Bob Ney (R) - a guy so corrupt, he's become somewhat of a household name in political circles. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that laws regulating banking practices are too esoteric to become major political themes in a campaign year. But it is becoming clear that is not the case. On the contrary, as consumer debt is hitting record levels and the middle class economic squeeze is subsequently worsening, debates over these laws are becoming flashpoints for broader debates over how much power our government has ceded to Corporate America, and how that power is being used to bleed ordinary citizens dry. And these flashpoints are occurring in the most politically important states in America.

Turns Out Ann Coulter is Also Too Stupid to Vote

From my neighbors (so to speak) at The Carpetbagger Report, a story I've avoided posting:

Ordinarily, I'm content pretending Ann Coulter doesn't exist, but one item jumped out at me that I considered too entertaining to ignore.

Coulter, you may recall, ridiculed voters in Palm Beach, Fla., after the 2000 presidential election, when thousands of votes were miscast due to the infamous "butterfly ballot." Coulter suggested those who are too stupid to vote properly shouldn't count anyway.

Coulter may want to rethink that whole approach.
    Palm Beach County's elections supervisor has given Universal Press Syndicate columnist Ann Coulter 30 days to explain why she voted in the wrong precinct, according to a Wednesday piece by Palm Beach Post columnist Jose Lambiet.

    Lambiet had first reported on Coulter's Florida voting problems last month. In his Wednesday follow-up, Lambiet wrote: "This time, claiming she doesn't even live here — as GOP pundit Ann Coulter has been doing on this spring's college speaking tour when she's questioned about her February election meltdown on Palm Beach — isn't going to cut it. …"

    The Lambiet piece continued: "In a registered letter scheduled to be sent to her this week, Coulter is asked to 'clarify certain information as to her legal residence,' elections boss Arthur Anderson said. 'We want to give her a chance,' Anderson said. 'She needs to tell us where she really lives.' Or else? He could refer the case to State Attorney Barry Krischer for criminal charges, Anderson said."
Lambiet cited an official incident report from a poll worker who found Coulter trying to vote in two precincts on the same day, in the same election. As for the possible legal penalties, Lambiet noted that it is a third-degree felony to vote knowingly in the wrong precinct. What's more, lying on a voter's registration can cost up to $5,000 and five years in jail.

Bolten-Bush Bizarro World

Speaking of Blah3, here's some really odd information I just read there:

preznit_giv_me_turkee writes "Some people keep pics of their spouse in their office, Bolten has pics of Bush's hands
    His wall collection of Bush photos, typical throughout the White House complex, is unique. The pictures focus exclusively on Bush's hands at key moments in his presidency. Not a single photo of Bush's face can be found."
OK, this is just plain creepy. I think I'm going to forego the container of yogurt I just opened.

Surf the Stranger

Blah3 - a very good blog, IMHO opinion - hopes to reach its one millionth blog visitor mark by the end of April. Consider visiting to see what Stranger, dedalus, and others have to say.

In the What the Bleep Are the Bushies Thinking?!? Department

What indeed? From an Australian paper (because God forbid American news media tell us these things):

THE United States military planned to detonate a 700 tonne explosive charge in a test called "Divine Strake" that would send a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas, a senior defence official said."I don't want to sound glib here but it is the first time in Nevada that you'll see a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas since we stopped testing nuclear weapons," said

James Tegnelia, head of the Defence Threat Reduction Agency.
Mr Tegnelia said the test was part of a US effort to develop weapons capable of destroying deeply buried bunkers housing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

"We have several very large penetrators we're developing," he said.

"We also have - are you ready for this - a 700 tonne explosively-formed charge that we're going to be putting in a tunnel in Nevada.

"And that represents to us the largest single explosive that we could imagine doing conventionally to solve that problem."

The aim was to measure the effect of the blast on hard granite structures, he said.
And scaring the shit out of the inhabitants to justify more Pentagon spending perhaps? In other words, a terrorist act by our own government perpetrated against its own people.

Lovely. Just lovely.

Congress, Lobbyists, and Industry Responsible for Weakening on Controls on Uranium Exports


"The responsibility falls to us, to take necessary action to prevent the horrors of 9/11 being replayed, but on a nuclear scale," declared Spencer Abraham, then-U.S. energy secretary, at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in May 2004. [1] Taking up the cudgels, he announced that Washington was establishing a Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), "to secure, remove, or dispose of an even broader range of nuclear and radiological materials around the world that are vulnerable to theft . . . ensuring they will not fall into the hands of those with evil intentions." The plan was applauded by many who felt the United States was not acting quickly enough to safeguard bomb-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) from terrorists. [2]

Yet, no sooner did the U.S. government take an important step forward than it took a giant leap back. Barely a year after Abraham's announcement, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which includes an amendment that loosens restrictions on the export of HEU. Driven by a purported need to assure the domestic supply of medical isotopes, which was never actually at risk, the new statute retreats from more than a quarter-century of U.S. efforts to phase out HEU commerce and its catastrophic risks.

The individuals responsible for this legislative debacle comprise a sweeping cast of characters, including foreign producers of medical isotopes, their U.S.-based lobbyists, gullible sectors of the American medical community, and the compliant lawmakers who spearheaded efforts on Capitol Hill. It is a cautionary tale of how a single foreign company can weaken U.S. national security through misleading scare tactics and cold cash.

Americans Are Getting Smarter, Not Falling for Bush/House's Bait-and-Switch

Somebody in America seems a little less ready to let Bush and the idiots in the House of Reprehensibles constantly distract them with bait-and-switch measures.

As proof, there is a CNN poll right now asking which is the greatest threat to American workers:

Illegal immigrants, or

5:1 (80% to 20%), poll respondents are saying outsourcing, which I believe to be very much the correct answer. Keep passing on the Koolaid, kiddies!

Gee, Perhaps We Can Get Prisoners to Take Those Tough Jobs in Congress, Too!

Scum sucking idiots (from CNN):

House conservatives criticized President Bush, accused the Senate of fouling the air, said prisoners rather than illegal farm workers should pick American crops and denounced the use of Mexican flags by protesters Thursday in a vehement attack on legislation to liberalize U.S. immigration laws.

Emergency Broadcast System

Is anyone else noticing that tests on TV for the Emergency Alert System, formerly the Emergency Broadcast System, are way up in frequency?

Yes, I realize they're always annoying, but I notice that on New York metro stations, they call them weekly tests now even though I sometimes see them more than once a week on the same station such as WNBC-TV, NBC's Manhattan flagship station.

We're also seeing them that often in Vermont.

Yet they used to be, until very recently, no more than monthly. So why the big increase?

Fear mongering?

As many of you will recall, the one time we did NOT see the Emergency Broadcast System was on 9/11, the one time when it might have been useful. This was because it was headquartered - oh, smart move - in the World Trade Center.

beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beeeeeeeepppppppp!!!

Billions and Billions Spent by the Bushies and We're No Safer

From WaPo (thank you, Michael Chertoff and the Department of Homeland InSUCKurity):

Nearly five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Washington region still lacks a strategic plan to guide preparations for any future attacks or to effectively spend hundreds of millions of homeland security dollars, federal and local officials told a U.S. Senate panel yesterday.
DC is hardly the only case of less security, however.

But with this true, why are all those Bush-friendly defense companies making such huge bundles of money? Hmmmm....

Speaking of Mr. Rumsfeld's Nonsense

While the DoD is busy, with Bush, cutting services and pay and health care for the military currently fighting their bogus wars, Rumsfeld pushed for THIS nonsense to defense contactor staff as reported by WaPo at The Washington Monthly's Political Animal Blog:

    Starting this month, U.S. government civilians serving in Iraq and in Afghanistan outside of Kabul are receiving an extra 35 percent above their base salaries for hardship and another 35 percent for danger. Previously, they were paid 25 percent extra for each category, the limits the government had set decades ago for any foreign post.

    ...."The idea was to recognize service at our most difficult and dangerous posts, and foremost among those posts are Iraq and Afghanistan," said a senior State Department official.
But I thought things were going fine in Iraq and it was only the traitorous fifth columnists in the media who were making it look dangerous?

Mr. Rumsfeld's Great Catch 22 Adventure

The Army under Rumsfeld's direction, along with the reserves etc, aren't always getting equipped with body armor. We know that already, correct?

So why is the Army now outlawing the use of personally-purchased body armor?

This makes about as much sense as our saber-rattling at Iran considering we're getting our asses kicked hard in Afghanistan and Iraq and we're bankrupt here at home in making overpayments to Halliburton, Bechtel, and other lovely defense contractors.


The Good (In)Justice Antonin Scalia: Fuck You to My Critics

Nice. Really nice. And in a church, for Pete's sake. From the Boston Herald:

Amid a growing national controversy about the gesture U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the freelance photographer who captured the moment has come forward with the picture. Amid a growing national controversy about the gesture U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the freelance photographer who captured the moment has come forward with the picture.

“It’s inaccurate and deceptive of him to say there was no vulgarity in the moment,” said Peter Smith, the Boston University assistant photojournalism professor who made the shot.

Despite Scalia’s insistence that the Sicilian gesture was not offensive and had been incorrectly characterized by the Herald as obscene, the photographer said the newspaper “got the story right.”

Smith said the jurist “immediately knew he’d made a mistake, and said, ‘You’re not going to print that, are you?’ ”

Scalia’s office yesterday referred questions regarding the flap to Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg, who said a letter Scalia sent Tuesday to the Herald defending his gesture at the cathedral “speaks for itself.”

“He has no further comment,” Arberg said.

Smith was working as a freelance photographer for the Boston archdiocese’s weekly newspaper at a special Mass for lawyers Sunday when a Herald reporter asked the justice how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship.

“The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, ‘To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.

The Italian phrase means “(expletive) you.”

A Few in Florida Finally Get a Clue About Bad Electronic Voting Machines Leading to Rigged Elections

About (bleeping) time, although Sancho has been outspoken for some time, amazing considering the sparcity of intelligence in Jeb Bush's Florida. From the Houston Chronicle by the AP:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's attorney general said Wednesday his office has issued investigative subpoenas to the three companies certified to sell voting machines in Florida as he reviews a dispute between the firms and Leon County's elections supervisor.

Diebold Inc., Election Systems & Software Inc., and Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. have refused to sell equipment to let disabled voters cast ballots without help in Leon County. Elections supervisor Ion Sancho has been outspoken about his concern that the devices can be easily manipulated to change race outcomes.

The companies' refusal has left Leon County, which is the home of the state Capitol, in violation of the federal Help America Vote Act.

"It is critical for our democratic process to work efficiently and effectively, but of most importance, fairly," Attorney General Charlie Crist said. "These subpoenas are to ensure that the rights of our voters with disabilities as well as all Florida voters are secured."

Congrats to Sibel Edmonds

This courageous little translator/whistleblower receives an award - as well as all the shit flying through the fan - for her efforts.

Three cheers for Sibel!

As the Ted Turner World Turns

He bashes the media, Bush... and frankly, I don't have too many arguments with what he rants about. Let's face it: CNN was a much better news organization under Ted than it is today, by far.

From the article:

"We can't afford the war in Iraq," Turner said. "This is a big waste of time.

"I wish we would say, 'We won and we are going home.' We shouldn't be there. Bombing isn't a way of changing people's minds. You do that with education."

Bush lacks a true understanding of the world, Turner said.

"We had a president of the United States who had been out of the country but once before he was elected," he said.

Ron Paul on Afghanistan, Iraq and Christianity

Ron Paul, an M.D. who is probably one of the more interesting (and usually sane) Republican members of the Texas pol system, writes this at Lew Rockwell.

Former FISA Lawyer Says Bush is Subject to Laws

Story here.

Interesting: Conservative TX GOPer Questions Faulty, Perhaps Fraudulent Electronic Voting Results

From BradBlog, something we should be watching before we get MORE highly irregular election results:

As The BRAD BLOG reported last week, a Conservative Republican former Texas Supreme Court Justice had been considering an Election Contest after electronic voting machine problems and inexplicable tallies plagued the first-in-the-nation March 7th primary in the Lone Star State.

Steve Smith -- who ran for election to the state Supreme Court, Place 2, in the Republican primary against an opponent backed by both Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry and the Bush family -- will be filing an official Election Contest this afternoon in Travis County District Court, The BRAD BLOG has learned.Since our previous report, the Smith for Supreme Court campaign has been examining election tallies around the state and report that they continue to find anomolies in virtually every county they look into.

"The more research we do, the more irregularities we find," campaign manager David Rogers told The BRAD BLOG this morning.The problems are being found on machines made by both Hart InterCivic and Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S) -- the two major Electronic Voting Machine vendors supplying the state of Texas.

Rogers says the campaign plans to file the Contest before 5pm (CT) today. The Contest (to be posted in full here when available) will outline some of the many problems they have found so far including counties "where there were more votes than voters."

Jill Carroll Released

The news that Jill Carroll had been released got me to jump for joy in my kitchen before 8 this morning, something that has never, ever happened.

Carroll was a class act, too. She was quick to say she was not mistreated, making it clear as she has always wanted to present the situation of real Iraqis. I doubt many of us could have been so balanced were we to lose more than two months of our freedom.

While far too many have lost their lives, the peace group's freed men and Jill Carroll show that some of these captors aren't just there to destroy. However, Iraqis and Muslims themselves are frequently the greatest targets of violence, while whites from the West are often considered at least pawns to bargain for. Carroll's Muslim translator, for example, was killed when she was taken.

Remember, too, that we have troops and contractors that have disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. But far too many Iraqis have met this fate. And for this, I do not blame Saddam who has been a non-issue since March 2003. I blame the Bushies and those disastrous contract companies we sent in there.


Must Read: The 10 Commandments of Reporting Religion

Buzzflash points us to Petty Larseny where these commandments are posted in all their sad glory!

I particularly like #8:

Thou shalt not steal the boundaries between faith and reason.

Noni Scalia's Obscene Gesture?

I'm clueless on this, but John at AmericaBlog is insisting that Supreme Court nutcase Noni Scalia release the photo he ordered hidden to prove the Opus Dei wannabe did not make an obscene gesture.

Well, considering Scalia's entire career on the Supreme Court has been obscene....

This link has more.

Ah, Another Righteous Rightie Shows an Interesting Way to Demonstrate Personal Responsibility

With - like any good Bushie - a lie and an evasion which has been the whole Bushdom approach to the war on Iraq.

From Ed&Pub:

How far will critics of media coverage of the Iraq war go to prove reporters are wrongly focusing on the negative?One answer came this week, in a shocking if amusing episode featuring one Howard Kaloogian, a leading Republican running for the seat in Congress recently vacated by indicted Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

Kaloogian posted on the official Web site for his campaign a picture taken in “downtown Baghdad,” he said, during his visit to the city, which supposedly indicated that the media was wrong about the level of violence there. “We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq,” he wrote. “Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism."

But the blogosphere quickly smelled a rat. The photo featured people who didn’t seem dressed quite right for Iraq, and signs and billboards that looked off, too. In the now-familiar pattern, the ace detective work leaped from obscure blogs to the well-known (Talking Points Memo, Eschaton, Attytood, more), and back again, as eagle-eyed experts proposed alternative locales, with Turkey a likely suspect.In less than a day, it was over. “Jem6X” at the popular DailyKos blog confirmed the street scene was in Bakirkoy, a suburb of Istanbul, not Baghdad.

Tipped off by someone who recognized the actual intersection in Turkey, Jem went through online photo galleries and in a matter of minutes today found a snap taken by a “Faruk” that lined up with the “Baghdad” photo in numerous conclusive ways. Game, set, and match to the blogosphere.Later Wednesday,

Kaloogian admitted the photo was from Turkey but denied he had anything personally to do with posting it on his site. He replaced that Turkey photo with a photo of what he said was Baghdad--taken from a distant hill.
If it walks like a rat, and smells like a rat, and acts like a rat... it's a Bush Bogus Republican!

More Americans Call Themselves Dems

I, for the record, do not call myself Republican or Democrat. I do, however, call myself other names upon occasion (cough).

From Ed&Pub:

NEW YORK In a (perhaps) historic shift, more Americans now consider themselves Democrats than Republicans, the Gallup organization revealed today.

Republicans had gained the upper hand in recent years, but 33% of Americans, in the latest Gallup poll, now call themselves Democrats, with those favoring the GOP one point behind. But Gallup says this widens a bit more "once the leanings of Independents are taken into account." Independents now make up 34% of the population.

When asked if they lean in a certain direction, their answers pushed the Democrat numbers to 49% with Republicans at 42%. One year ago, the parties were dead even at 46% each.

This shift indicates, Gallup says, why its polls show Democrats leading in this year's congressional races.
Considering the weak-kneed, tremorous Dems, it's hard to imagine why - except for the disaster which is Bush and right-wing righties - people would be more likely to call themselves Dems. Dems need to demand better representation - they really, truly do!

Is Jack Abramoff Flat Broke Busted?

That's what I just read at Crooks and Liars.

The man who bankrolled "democracy" and found that just about every Republican politician not only has a price, but is more than happy to prostitute themselves, says he is completely devoid of funds.

So I guess we will pay his attorney's fees now? Isn't that rich?

An Early Fitzmas?

I second this from the Curmudgeonly Crab:

ae of Arse Poetica posts some hopefully hopeful news about possible indictments of two administration officials. Yay!

Oh, ae, I'm hoping against hope, too, and crossing my fingers, saying incantations, lighting candles, not stepping on cracks, avoiding ladders, black cats and broken mirrors. Right now, I'm closing my eyes and saying my favorite prayer: "Please, please, please. Please, oh please."**W

hile it may apppear to be begging, this is a really good prayer and can be said by believers, agnostics and atheists. Try it, in addition to everything else you're doing to fight the madness. It can't hurt, right?

Two-Thirds of Americans Very Worried About Health Care

While the Republicans keep telling us any attempt to have universal health care can't be done here, this is what a Gallup poll tells us:

Two-thirds of Americans say they personally worry "a great deal" about the availability and affordability of healthcare, according to the latest Gallup Poll, making that issue the most worrisome among a dozen measured. It is also the top-ranking issue for Democrats, independents, and Republicans.

And About the War on Christianity

The previous post referenced more nonsense from Tom DeLay and others today about "a definite major war on Christianity."

Yeah, right, sure.

This is always like having someone keep bitch slapping you and then, when you tell them to stop, that person declares you're warring against him.

I'm a Christian, and I'm certainly not waging war on myself. But I don't consider men like DeLay and Jerry Falwell and James Dobson and Pat Robertson, people who live lives totally bankrupt of morality and responsibility and "brotherly love", Christians in any sense of the word.

These men are specifically subverting Christianity along with politics. We are at war with their attempts to turn our country into a theocracy ruled by them, which is hardly a war against Christianity. It's a war against unintelligent pond scum.

The Criminal, Hot Tub Tom DeLay, Takes More Potshots at Judges

He's one to talk:

Republican Rep. Tom DeLay said Tuesday that former and current Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg "don't get it" when they complain about conservative criticism of judges.

"All wisdom doesn't reside in ... people in black robes," DeLay said.

In recent weeks, O'Connor has said the criticism has threatened judicial independence to deal with difficult issues such as gay marriage. Ginsburg said in a speech that a Web threat against her and O'Connor was apparently prompted by Republican proposals in Congress that tell judges to stop relying on foreign laws or court decisions.

...Earlier, the former House majority leader told activists he agreed with their premise that there is a "war on Christianity.

"Our faith has always been in direct conflict with the values of the world," DeLay said. "We are, after all, a society that provides abortion on demand, has killed millions of innocent children, degrades the institution of marriage, and all but treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition."

DeLay was forced to abandon his job as majority leader while facing indictment on charges that he improperly funneled corporate donations to Republican candidates for the House and amid questions about his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Revisionist History: Casper Weinberger

Listening the last two days to all the grand tales about former Reaganite Casper Weinberger, who died early yesterday, I've noticed how much revisionist history is at work here.

This is a man who was intimately tied to the whole Iran-Contra debacle, which was another stealing of the presidency (Reagan's deals behind the scenes to get the Iranian hostages released ONLY right after he won the election), and Weinberger SHOULD have been tried, convicted, and done prison time. So should Ollie North and Reagan himself.

Now, however, mush mouths like Pat Buchanan and Chris Matthews herald Weinberger as "a class act", a great man, a fine public servant, et al. It's nauseating.

But all of this seems to pale in comparison to the acts of treason and the crimes being committed - even bragged about - by the Bushies.

Abramoff: 6 Years for Fraud in Casino Boat Case

This, however, is not the big Washington case.

April 8th Decision Day for Leading Dems in Vermont Re: Bush Impeachment


Leading Democrats in Vermont plan to decide in April whether to urge state lawmakers to petition for President Bush's impeachment using a little-known provision in the rules of the U.S. House.

Democratic committees in at least half of the state's 14 counties have passed resolutions calling for impeachment, citing a rule in "Jefferson's Manual," a book of parliamentary guidelines written by Thomas Jefferson that supplements U.S. House rules.

The anti-Bush movement is "genuinely bubbling up from the grass roots," said Jon Copans, the state party's executive director.

The state Democratic committee is scheduled to decide the issue in a special meeting April 8.

The resolutions accuse the Bush administration of lying about the case for war in Iraq and illegally engaging in electronic surveillance of Americans.

Bush Back to Blaming Saddam

At what point does Bush stop blaming Saddam for things, considering the man has been in jail for 2 1/2 years and out of power for more than three?

Yet today, the president comes out and blames Saddam for the violence in Iraq when Hussein is barely an historical footnote today.

No question Saddam was a bad guy. Unfortunately, for a long time, he was a bad guy the Bushies supported which helped him stay in office. Cheney's companies, for example, sold him some of the lovely stuff he used to exterminate his own people as well as the Kurds.

But for Bush to cry Saddam's blame now is lame. Lame. Really, really lame. It just shows how desperate the Bushies are to lay responsibility at anyone and everyone's feet but their own.


The Great Andy Card Replacement

Right - changing the White House chief of staff from one old Bushie to another will make a big deal change in an administration that is blind and deaf to the rest of the country.

As Judd at Think Progress notes:

6.592 trillion: Federal debt on June 26, 2003, the day Josh Bolten became director of the Office of Management and Budget.

$8.364 trillion: Federal debt today.

In the Bush administration, this is grounds for a promotion.
Bolten was Bush's budget man before this, and has been with the Bushies since the start. He's another dismal choice in a sea of horrible choices.

Violence in Tal Afar

From Think Progress:

Tal Afar, an Iraqi town singled out last week by President Bush as a success story for American and Iraqi forces, “was last night the scene of a suicide bombing that killed at least 40 people and wounded 20 others.”

In an “apparent effort to mend his relationship with the press,” President Bush has been “holding informal off-the-record sessions with major news organizations over the last several days.” Knight-Ridder’s Ron Hutcheson said they were “likely part of the outreach aimed at improving support for the Iraq War.”

$28 Billion: Possible revenue oil companies stand to gain over the next five years under an obscure provision in last year’s giant energy bill that allows companies to avoid paying royalties on oil and gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico. “The provision received almost no Congressional debate, in part because Congress was lazy and in part because the provision was misleadingly advertised as cost-free.”
There were some 86 people killed just on Sunday. And those are just the ones we heard about. Jeebus.

Vermont Petition to Impeach the President

Forwarded by the excellent Morgan Brown of Norsehorse's Turf is an online petition that requests the Vermont legislature to begin impeachment proceedings against you-know-who.

I'm sure it's just coincidence, but military helicopter traffic here seems waaaaayyyy up, like the Bushies decided to take the freepers' advice to meet Vermont's free speech with black helicopters. Heh.


G'night John Boy, Mary Ellen, Elizabeth, Jason....

And all the other Waltons out at sea.

And MissM! Sorry I missed you today; I was working on Japanese PDFs (what fun- NOT!).

More Confirmation Bush Was Going to War No Matter What

Read it and weep, in the Times:

LONDON — In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."


Tom DeLay Aide Pockets a Third of Money Collected by DeLay's Family-Based Non-Profit

Wonder how much of that money kicked back to dear ol' Hot Tub Tom DeLay, eh?

top adviser to former House Whip Tom DeLay received more than a third of all the money collected by the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit organization the adviser created to promote a pro-family political agenda in Congress, according to the group's accounting records.

DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who helped create the group while still in DeLay's employ, and his wife, Wendy, were the principal beneficiaries of the group's $3.02 million in revenue, collecting payments totaling $1,022,729 during a five-year period ending in 2001, public and private records show.

The group's revenue was drawn mostly from clients of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to its records. From an FBI subpoena for the records, it can be inferred that the bureau is exploring whether there were links between the payments and favorable legislative treatment of Abramoff's clients by DeLay's office.

In recent months, Abramoff pleaded guilty to charges of tax fraud and conspiracy to defraud clients and bribe a public official; DeLay (R-Tex.) stepped down from his post as House majority leader; and Buckham folded his lobbying firm, the Alexander Strategy Group.

In the late 1990s, when DeLay's influence was growing, the lawmaker depicted the USFN in a promotional letter as a nationwide, grass-roots organization. In fact, it had a tiny staff that barely registered an impact on Capitol Hill. The group appears to have served mostly as a vehicle for funneling corporate funds to DeLay's advisers and financing ads that attacked Democrats.

Miracle Mouse Testes

One wonders what the extreme right wingnuts will find to protest as being against God that scientists feel they have found that mice testes behave very much like human stem cells. But, trust me, they'll find something.

Bush, Bumbling All Over the Map, See?

From the Boston Herald (heh):

President Bush was feeling chatty this week, rolling from Cleveland to Washington to Wheeling, W.Va., to riff about the elusive and bloody quest for Iraqi democracy.

But the three-day, three-city tour doesn’t mean Bush has flip-flopped on his policy of talking a lot while saying little.

For armchair Bush observers, these sessions provide a fascinating glimpse into the folksy, shoot-from-the-lip communication style brandished by the man who brought us such legendary sound bites as “bring ’em on” and “dead or alive.”

Bush explained that in addition to commander in chief, he’s also the “educator in chief.” Today’s lesson: his God-given ability to spin rambling monologues around the semiautomatic repetition of familiar words, phrases and anecdotes. Victory will be ours as long as we don’t “lose our nerve,” he said four more times Tuesday (saving the sister sound bite “shake our will” for Wednesday).

One of the president’s favorite education tools is to tack the word “see” to the front or back of any statement to sound like he’s conveying key information. (On Wednesday: “An interesting debate in the world is whether or not freedom is universal, see . . .” Then, two seconds later, “See, I believe freedom is universal.”)

Yes, I see. Unfortunately, every time Bush instructs me to “see,” he reminds me of those Mugsy-type gangsters on Bugs Bunny. (“You dirty terrorists. You’ll never shake our will, see.”)

There is much the president wants us to understand. He deployed the word 26 times Wednesday, including this elegant three-fer: “You got to understand that I fully understand there is deep concern among the American people about whether or not we can win. And I can understand why people are concerned.”

Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand some of us aren’t impressed each time he repeats, “I understand people’s lives are being lost.”

Congratulations to the Half Million Who Marched This Weekend Against Foolish New Anti-Immigrant Laws

Yes, we need to do something, I suppose, about the rising tide of people who just dash over the border. But the answer is not to criminalize anyone who tries to help the poor and desperate who make it to the U.S. The Native American side of me would like to remind everyone, including my Plymouth Rock-landed side, that we are ALL immigrants.

I applaud each and every person who marched this weekend to protest these fool new measures.

Now the Far Right Calls Pop Culture Terrorism

Granted, I too find Paris Hilton and Tom Cruise pretty damned frightening, but this is ridiculous.

Our Condolences to Senator Byrd and His Family

His wife has died after a long illness.

Noni Scalia, an Embarrassment to the Supreme Court and the US

Newsweek asks the question, "Should Scalia recuse himself from the Gitmo case?"

More importantly, I think Scalia should get his ass off the bench. This man is an enemy to democracy, to the judicial process, to our Constitution, and civil liberties, to name just a few.

But read this with regard to the Gitmo issue:

The Supreme Court this week will hear arguments in a big case: whether to allow the Bush administration to try Guantánamo detainees in special military tribunals with limited rights for the accused. But Justice Antonin Scalia has already spoken his mind about some of the issues in the matter. During an unpublicized March 8 talk at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, Scalia dismissed the idea that the detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions, adding he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to Gitmo. "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," he says on a tape of the talk reviewed by NEWSWEEK. "Give me a break." Challenged by one audience member about whether the Gitmo detainees don't have protections under the Geneva or human-rights conventions, Scalia shot back: "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy." Scalia was apparently referring to his son Matthew, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Scalia did say, though, that he was concerned "there may be no end to this war."...

"This is clearly grounds for recusal," said Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a human-rights group that has filed a brief in behalf of the Gitmo detainees. "I can't recall an instance where I've heard a judge speak so openly about a case that's in front of him—without hearing the arguments."

From the Front Line to the Unemployment Line

Soldiers return from war to find their military skills won't land them jobs.

Thankfully, Mr. Bush isn't sending the twins to war but they can't seem to find work anyway. Been out of school three years and all they do is party hearty.

Personal Bankruptcies WAY Up

Even with the disastrous changes to the bankruptcy law, filings under George Bush's economy soar by 30% of what were record filings before the law changed.

FEMA Very Good in Bailouts to Affluent; They Just Happen to Miss the Poor

Gee.... apparently FEMA is much better at making sure the rich get checks to cover their expenses than they are at helping the poor emergency stricken. Affluent Floridians, for example, do very well with FEMA.

Delta Force Leader: President Bush Ignited World War III

This guy isn't exactly a fluffy little dove either:

founding member of the elite counter-terrorist unit, Delta Force, suggested that President Bush's invasion of Iraq may have started World War III, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, RAW STORY has learned. The article, acquired by RAW STORY Friday night, is expected in Sunday editions of the paper.

Retired Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney's book "Inside Delta Force" became the basis for the CBS drama "The Unit," where he now assumes technical adviser and executive producer duties.

Excerpts from the forthcoming article written by David Kronke:

Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?
A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

Why is The FBI Doing This?

It would seem they have more than enough on their plate without going after critics.

Posted at SpeakSpeak:

The job of the FBI is to enforce laws, not to investigate critics.

For example, if the president of Common Cause attends a meeting of the League of Women Voters and criticizes the Patriot Act, that shouldn’t be investigated by the FBI:
    On March 14, [Common Cause President Chellie] Pingree participated on a panel on open government sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan that received news coverage in the local newspaper on March 17.

    A week after the panel, an FBI agent contacted the local League president, Susan Gilbert, to raise questions about Pingree’s published remarks at the panel. In her brief comments addressing the law, Pingree raised some privacy and secrecy concerns about the USA PATRIOT Act, and praised Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for their leadership on Freedom of Information issue.

    According to Gilbert, FBI agent Al Dibrito said that Pingree’s comments on the USA PATRIOT Act were “way off base,” and that the League should have invited someone from the federal government to be on the panel and to respond. DiBrito then told Gilbert that she would be contacted by someone from the assistant U.S. attorney’s office in Grand Rapids to give her the real story on the Patriot Act.
    …”Citizens can be intimidated when an FBI agent calls and questions their activities,” said Pingree.
The FBI is so powerful that Congress has continued the PATRIOT Act which lets FBI agents violate our civil liberties.

A meeting of citizens on the PATRIOT Act doesn’t need to include an apologist for this awful law; the FBI has enough power on its own to get its message to Congress.

Nor is it the proper role of the FBI to tell the League of Women Voters whom they should invite to speak at a meeting.

A Bellwether for the Power of a President and the Rights We Claim to Hold Dear Indeed

Important article in The Times:

TAKE a good look at the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, an admitted member of Al Qaeda who may soon be sentenced to death, after pleading guilty to conspiracy in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks. It may be the last time a suspected terrorist will enjoy the full panoply of rights — a jury of civilians, an independent judge, the guarantee of an open trial — accorded to criminal defendants in the United States.

What are the implications of an unending war with no geographical boundaries?
Instead, the government plans to try accused terrorists before special tribunals in which the judge is appointed by the Pentagon, the jurors are military officers and certain canonical rights in our civil system — like the right to be present at all sessions of the trial — are absent. The future of the tribunals will be up to the Supreme Court, which will rule on their legality in Salim Hamdan v. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which is to be argued on Tuesday.

Salim Hamdan, born in Yemen, was captured in Afghanistan in November 2001 and has confessed to working as a driver for Osama bin Laden. Like Mr. Moussaoui, Mr. Hamdan was charged with conspiring with Al Qaeda to commit acts of terrorism. The critical distinction, though, is that Mr. Hamdan was charged as a war criminal, meaning he was designated for prosecution before a military tribunal rather than in a federal court. His lawyers, led by Neal K. Katyal, a professor at Georgetown University, have sued to block the tribunal; hence Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

There is much more at stake here than the fate of one detainee. Mr. Hamdan's case will test a broader strategic shift in the American approach to fighting terrorism. By treating terrorism as an act of war rather than a crime, the Bush administration is hoping to end an embarrassing string of botched criminal terrorism prosecutions, including those of Mr. Moussaoui — where the judge recently rebuked a government prosecutor for improperly coaching witnesses — and Sami al-Arian, who is accused of being an Islamic Jihad activist and who was acquitted of various charges by a Florida jury several months ago
Why have we lowered the standard of proof? Is this really what we want?

Mr Bush: Where is the Good News? 18 More Iraqis Dead, 30 Found Beheaded

Mr. Bush tells us that there are plenty of nice things happening in Iraq. But it's awfully hard to understand then this kind of information in context:

At least 18 Iraqis have died in clashes between US troops and militants loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr at a Baghdad mosque, Iraqi sources report.

The US military said it was investigating the reports, which came from Iraqi police, medical sources and Mr Sadr's aides.

A militant spokesman said those killed were worshipping at the time.

Iraqi security forces earlier found 30 bodies - all of them beheaded - near the town of Baquba.

The Gruesome Reality of Civilian Deaths in Operation Swarmer

Terrible, terrible stuff, as reported in Common Dreams:

...when the [Bushies] launched Operation Swarmer, the Pentagon barred even imbedded reporters. The American public was told that Operation Swarmer was a successful example of US and Iraqi forces working together to wipe out insurgents, but they saw nothing of the effects of the assault on the ground.

But while the public is fed rosy propaganda, the reality is far more gruesome. Take, for example, the operation in Isshaqi, a small village near Samarra. At 1:30am on Tuesday, March 21, the American troops, accompanied by helicopters , raided the modest rural home of a primary school teacher, Faiz Mratt. According to his neighbor Mohammad Al-Majma, the 27-year-old school teacher, his wife, their three children, his sister, her three children, his father and a woman who was visiting them were all arrested, tied, and beaten, and then the American troops opened fire on the family. “After they executed them, the troops put explosives in the house and blew it up,” said Mohammad, crying. “They killed even the farm animals”

Faiz’s surviving sister was devastated. “They killed my mother, Torkiya Majid, who was 90 years old,” she cried. “They killed Faiz’s three children: Hawra, 4, Aysha 2, and Hussam, who was only 4 months old. They killed my sister Faiza, who was also a schoolteacher, and her children Osama 6, and Asmaa, 5.”

Aziz Khalil, 30, and his fiancée Nidhal Mohammad, 23, who were to be married on Thursday, were also killed. All told, the operation to kill “insurgents” left six children and four women dead.

No Child Left Educated

And this, from The Times:

SACRAMENTO — Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush's signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.

Schools from Vermont to California are increasing — in some cases tripling — the class time that low-proficiency students spend on reading and math, mainly because the federal law, signed in 2002, requires annual exams only in those subjects and punishes schools that fall short of rising benchmarks.

The changes appear to principally affect schools and students who test below grade level.

The intense focus on the two basic skills is a sea change in American instructional practice, with many schools that once offered rich curriculums now systematically trimming courses like social studies, science and art. A nationwide survey by a nonpartisan group that is to be made public on March 28 indicates that the practice, known as narrowing the curriculum, has become standard procedure in many communities.

Curiouser and Curiouser: How the Wiretaps Turn

From US News and World Report:

A federal judge in Oregon has refused to hand over for safekeeping to the FBI a classified document that may show that the NSA conducted warrantless electronic surveillance on an Ashland, Ore., charity that the government alleges had ties to Osama bin Laden. U.S. District Judge Garr King sided with charity attorney Steven Goldberg, who argued that the FBI is a defendant in the case and therefore not a neutral party that can be entrusted with the document. The judge instead has temporarily placed the document with federal prosecutors in Seattle until he can make a decision as to how the material should be handled.

Thomas Nelson, who also represents the charity, al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc., gave the document to the judge in February as part of a lawsuit he has filed against the Bush administration alleging that the NSA conducted illegal eavesdropping on conversations between charity codirector Suliman al-Buthe and his American attorneys, Wendell Belew and Asim Ghafoor. The intelligence was later used to target the charity, Nelson's complaint alleges.

According to the Washington Post and other sources, Treasury Department officials—who were investigating the foundation for terrorist ties—inadvertently gave a copy of the classified document, marked "top secret" and dated May 24, 2004, to an al-Haramain attorney, as part of a routine disclosure of documents the government was citing to designate the charity as a terrorist organization. In May 2004, the attorney gave the document to Belew and Ghafoor, who also represented the charity. Belew in turn gave a copy of the document to a Post reporter. In November 2004, FBI agents took the document back from Belew and the Post reporter saying it contained highly sensitive national security information, according to the Post.

And Still Bush-Cheney Lie: More Iraqis Dying from Militia Violence Than Insurgency

From Reuters:

The U.S. ambassador urged Iraq's divided leaders to rein in militias on Saturday as political blocs failed again to break a deadlock on forming a unity government that they hope can avert civil war.

Zalmay Khalilzad, who is pressing hard for a government more than three months after elections, issued a tough warning about the militias, many of which have ties to powerful Shi'ite leaders and are entrenched in Iraqi security forces and police.

"More Iraqis are dying from the militia violence than from the terrorists," he told reporters during a visit to a Baghdad youth center newly renovated with U.S. funds.

The I Word Gains Momentum (Not to Be Confused with Joe-Mentum, TYVM)

As Christian posts in comments, Brattleboro has joined the number of Vermont communities who have voted to start impeachment proceedings against President Bush.

Also, Constant (from Constant's Pations) points out that cities elsewhere are joining in, some perhaps even in Texas.

What can I say? It couldn't happen to a nastier president.

WaPo's Darling Conservative Plagiarist Blogger Strikes Back

My, he's repentant. He deserves to have that Ann Coulter ad on the same page with his drivel:

In his first public comments since resigning earlier today as a blogger for washingtonpost.com, Ben Domenech says his editors there were “fools” for not expecting an onslaught of attacks from the left.“While I appreciated the opportunity to go and join the Washington Post,” Domenech said, “if they didn’t expect the leftists were going to come after me with their sharpened knives, then they were fools.”

Domenech has been under a steady stream of criticism since washingtonpost.com launched the new blog, “Red America,” on Tuesday.

Domenech, an editor at Regnery Publishing (a sister company to HUMAN EVENTS), was accused of plagiarism by several left-wing blogs.Although Domenech says there is an explanation for nearly all the examples cited by the left-wing bloggers, he felt he was left no choice by washingtonpost.com but to resign.“I felt like if I didn’t resign, they would have pushed me out—if not today, then Monday,” he said.

Jim Brady, executive editor of washingtonpost.com, wrote a note on “Red America” this afternoon explaining Domenech’s resignation.
Poor baby. Like a good little right wingnut hatchet man, it's always someone else's fault.