Al Qaeda NOT Behind Big July Train Bombings in London

From the UK Observer:

The official inquiry into the 7 July London bombings will say the attack was planned on a shoestring budget from information on the internet, that there was no 'fifth-bomber' and no direct support from al-Qaeda, although two of the bombers had visited Pakistan.

The first forensic account of the atrocity that claimed the lives of 52 people, which will be published in the next few weeks, will say that attacks were the product of a 'simple and inexpensive' plot hatched by four British suicide bombers bent on martyrdom.

Far from being the work of an international terror network, as originally suspected, the attack was carried out by four men who had scoured terror sites on the internet. Their knapsack bombs cost only a few hundred pounds, according to the first completed draft of the government's definitive report into the blasts.

The Home Office account, compiled by a senior civil servant at the behest of Home Secretary Charles Clarke, also discounts the existence of a fifth bomber. After the bombings, police found an unused rucksack of explosives in the bombers' abandoned car at Luton station, which led to a manhunt for a missing suspect. Similarly, it found nothing to support the theory that an al-Qaeda fixer, presumed to be from Pakistan, was instrumental in planning the attacks.

A Whitehall source said: 'The London attacks were a modest, simple affair by four seemingly normal men using the internet.'

Give a Very Warm Web Surf and Welcome to...

MissM's very own blog. She's gooooooood.

Bushies Knew Saddam's Nuclear Efforts Were BS When They Told Us to Worry About the Mushroom Cloud

From the Times:

Reports about Saddam Hussein's nuclear efforts were being discredited by senior officials when President Bush authorized their release.
Gee, what a surprise (NOT).

Is Iraq Worth It?

The LA Times breaks down some core poll results on the above-referenced question along with where the focus is right now by the "powers that be".

Most Intelligent Voice on Faux News in a Bit

Thanks to Skippy for pointing me to My Left Wing where I was able to find a link to hear Mary Scott O'Connor's appearance on the John Gibson Show on Faux... er... Fox News. Class act.

I know Mary has been by here at least once. But she was a refreshingly intelligent change on Fox.

Vermont Dems Vote on Impeachment

Morgan Brown just sent this over:

The Democratic State Committee on Saturday voted tourge the U.S. Congress to begin impeachment proceedings againstPresident Bush, but decided against asking the Vermont Legislature tojoin that call.

Margaret Lucenti, a committee member from Montpelier, said thepresident had misled the country into war, conducted illegalelectronic spying on Americans and violated international torturetreaties."I would hope that any one of these infractions would bring theadministration down... We need to restore accountability in ourfederal government," she said.

"I would hope that any one of these infractions would bring theadministration down... We need to restore accountability in ourfederal government," she said.

Adoption of the resolution calling for impeachment proceedings makesVermont's the fifth state Democratic party committee to take suchaction, following New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin,state party officials said.

Medicare Part D for Duh

Tonight, NBC news referred to the president's assinine Medicare drug coverage plan as "increasingly popular". Exactly on what are they basing this?

I've talked to pharmacists, Medicare recipients, caregivers, and others who all say this is a complete nightmare at best.

Read this, for example, about how cancer patients are suddently getting hit with massive bills for their medications. And the cut-off for signing up for D for Disaster coverage is just about a month away, with many seniors terrified as hell both to sign up AND to fail to sign up.

The Times: Government Study Shows Iraq Separating into Sectarian Instable Groups

Chilling but not altogether unsurprising or beyond belief:

An internal staff report by the United States Embassy and the military command in Baghdad provides a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq's political, economic and security situation, rating the overall stability of 6 of the 18 provinces "serious" and one "critical." The report is a counterpoint to some recent upbeat public statements by top American politicians and military officials.

The report, 10 pages of briefing points titled "Provincial Stability Assessment," underscores the shift in the nature of the Iraq war three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Warnings of sectarian and ethnic frictions are raised in many regions, even in those provinces generally described as nonviolent by American officials.

There are alerts about the growing power of Iranian-backed religious Shiite parties, several of which the United States helped put into power, and rival militias in the south. The authors also point to the Arab-Kurdish fault line in the north as a major concern, with the two ethnicities vying for power in Mosul, where violence is rampant, and Kirkuk, whose oil fields are critical for jump-starting economic growth in Iraq.

The patterns of discord mapped by the report confirm that ethnic and religious schisms have become entrenched across much of the country, even as monthly American fatalities have fallen.
Those indications, taken with recent reports of mass migrations from mixed Sunni-Shiite areas, show that Iraq is undergoing a de facto partitioning along ethnic and sectarian lines, with clashes — sometimes political, sometimes violent — taking place in those mixed areas where different groups meet.

The report, the first of its kind, was written over a six-week period by a joint civilian and military group in Baghdad that wanted to provide a baseline assessment for conditions that new reconstruction teams would face as they were deployed to the provinces, said Daniel Speckhard, an American ambassador in Baghdad who oversees reconstruction efforts.

Bush: Wrong Again on Immigration

After the Senate, having been back from vacation just two weeks, decided to go on another two-week hiatus following the failure to pass an immigration bill, President Bush came out swinging today blaming the Dem majority leader, Harry Reid, for his "obstructionist" efforts.

But, while I'm hardly the biggest fan in general of Reid, here's why I think Bush is full of it. First, supposedly a lot of leading GOPers are talking behind the scene that they don't WANT to pass an immigration bill right now. They want to have the issue still being discussed going into mid-term elections the first Tuesday in November. They've done this before on gay marriage and other issues, so I'm perfectly willing to believe they're doing it again.

Second, while the House version of the immigration bill is by far the most draconian and unmanageable, the "compromise" version in the Senate was still something of a nightmare. They drafted this nonsense system where the longer someone has broken the immigration laws, the more they stand to benefit. Only the Senate could think that was a workable plan. No GOPer was going to happily sign onto that initiative and any Dem with an IQ over 50 should not have agreed to it either.

Third, Time Magazine covered this debate in some depth in the most recent issue and while they agree everyone is mad at Reid, they agree just blaming it on Reid is not quite that simple. Read it here.

The GOP is, I believe, the biggest bullshit factor here. It's rich GOPers who scream about immigration while they hire all this cheap labor without visas or green cards. Forgive me, but I just don't hear about huge Dem-leaning businesses where 300 or 3,000 employees all happen to share the same Social Security number. So while Arlen Spector can scream and yell that it's to Dems' advantage not to have an immigration bill, I think the opposite is actually more true: no immigration bill that involves sending all aliens back home will not pass, so it is in Republicans best interest NOT to pass a bill that calls for anything less than deportation or lynching.

The problem, however, goes way beyond state, beyond party, and even beyond country. This isn't a new problem. However, frankly, I'm still surprised people want to come to the land of nuts and roses as much as they once did.

Nor is there going to be any magic solution here. The end result will have to infuriate just about everybody on one point or another. But let's face it: no building of a wall is going to stop illegal immigration. And, if you think we're broke now, imagine how broke we'll be trying to round up 11-12 million illegal immigrants and sending them back home.

Is Joe-Mentum the Only Dem Getting Briefed on Plans to Bomb Iran?

Some think so. The folks at Atrios discuss.

A Liberal is a Conservative Who Got a Foreclosure Notice

Foreclosures on American homes are skyrocketing.

So much for Bush's "ownership" society... or wait, he meant the banks owning the homes.

Lenin May Finally Be Buried

Just 82 or so years after Lenin's death.

Geez, I mean, I'm a packrat but I don't usually keep loved ones or - er... not loved ones around the house for decades. Not unless you count... er.. never mind.

For those of you of the teen persuasion, that's Vladimir Lenin, not John Lennon. To my knowledge, Yoko Ono had nothing to do with the breakup of Russia.

I Have Hurt Myself

And speaking of Joe Lieberman, uber-putz! Actually, I blame Jesus' General, aka Patriotboy, for perhaps breaking my rib from laughing too hard when I saw this posted today (if there is ANY wonder whatsoever how the general wins his Koufax award, there should not be):

Major Lieberman Home State Paper Asks Where Joe is on the Bush Leak Debacle

The Hartford Courant asks why Joe Lieberman is being so mum on the whole issue of the revelation that Bush-Cheney authorized the leak of information that led to the outing of Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative. The paper also notes that Lieberman, who has handily won re-election several times, is taking hits for his "perceived coziness" with the Bushies and has "appeared rattled" in recent weeks by his current challenger's strong showing.

I'd like to see Joe's political career end. He worries far too much about what is good for him and too little about what is good for those he represents. This, however, is true of many if not most elected officials, but as I've said before, I think we need a total change in Washington that would involve losing just about everyone currently serving there.

Our Very Broken Immigration Bureaucracy

Important and not altogether surprising revelations on how broken our system is from a former INS official. Nods to Buzzflash for the link to the wire service article.

A Cancer Not on the Presidency But the Nation

The Scranton (PA) Times-Tribune has a very powerful editorial on the Libby-Bush-Plame-CIA Outing issue. Here's a bit:

The administration felt it had to discredit Mr. Wilson, who had put the lie to the president’s claim that Iraq had tried to purchase “yellowcake” uranium to make nuclear weapons. Mr. Libby began meeting with reporters and sharing classified intelligence, including portions of a National Intelligence Estimate supporting the president’s claim.

Mr. Cheney also ordered the outing of Ms. Plame, although it’s not clear from Mr. Libby’s testimony what the president knew and when he knew it.When the scandal broke, Mr. Bush said he would fire anyone caught leaking, a pledge he later amended to read “anyone who broke the law.”

When Mr. Libby was charged with five counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI, he was allowed to resign. Guess you have to be convicted, too. “I’d like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information,” Mr. Bush said, revealing himself as either a liar or a fool, perhaps both. Either he authorized the leaks, or Mr. Cheney did so without his permission. Either way, it’s time for a reckoning.

The excuses have already begun. While the White House is dodging questions about Mr. Libby’s testimony, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insists the president has the “inherent authority to decide who should have classified information.” This is the same great legal mind who advocated torture and secret wiretapping. In other words, if the president does it, it’s not illegal.

It all has an eerily familiar ring, but something is very different this time around. We’re no longer talking about a cancer on the presidency, but a presidency that’s a cancer on the nation.

Brokeback Bill Frist?

You've no doubt heard some of the rumors swirling since Bill Frist sent an invitation out that included a red handkerchief strategically placed in a cowboy's specific back pocket and where you had to undo the cowboy's belt buckle to get to details of the event.

With someone else, I'd just consider it taking advantage of the popularity of a piece of pop culture right now with Brokeback Mountain's incredible popularity (I have not seen it even though I am the child of a cowboy who, at least based on the number of girlfriends he had besides my mother - cough - was NOT gay).

But coming from presidential hopeful Bill Frist, who has proven himself happy to abandon science and common sense to pander to the type of weak-minded Bush-Rove conservative base, it just strikes me as VERY, VERY odd.

From WaPo:

"Don't miss a celebration of southern hospitality," the invite says, "one-of-a-kind music and special friends . . ." though it's unclear who those friends are and what makes them special.

The back of the card shows the cowboy from behind with a red flowered handkerchief sticking out of his right pocket. Wait a minute -- wasn't there something about how this used to be some kind of code in the gay community years ago? A way to signal each other in crowded, noisy bars?

So we checked the GayCityUSA.com's Hanky Codes. Sure enough, there it was in the chart explaining what they mean: red hanky in right pocket. Oh, dear.

More on Iran

The New Yorker has a long and important piece on the Bushies' plan for Iran which, I suspect, will not really wait on any diplomatic endeavors (like Iraq, it seems to be a foregone conclusion what they want to do so they'll make the "news" justify their actions). I encourage you to take the time to read it if you can.

I think we need to pay attention to this and perhaps make it clear to Congress critters and everyone else that we will NOT be duped again. Iran is a much different deal than Iraq; we'll be in much worse shape for the effort.

Tom DeLay

AttaTurk at Rising Hegemon offers this observation on Hot Tub Tom DeLay:

Tom DeLay tells Time that he is leaving Congress for the purpose of assisting orphans, based upon how DeLay has used orphans before for his own political ends and given his work experience, I fear one can draw only one conclusion.

Tom DeLay intends to exterminate Orphans.
And I fear AttaTurk may be right.

A Note to CNN

What the (bleep) is it with CNN thinking that if it happens in Atlanta, it rivets the entire rest of the nation?

It does not.

Yet they spend countless hours on Atlantas stuck on cranes, Atlantans in storms, Atlantas trying to find a dipshit missing bride because a) it's cheap for them to do and b) they think the rest of the country will be gaga for it.

God forbid they spent less time on the weather and more time on political and governmental stuff people could DO something about.

Justice DeLay-ed

From the Mercury News (and we'll see, I suppose - I suspect that Tom knows where so many bodies are buried, he'll come out of this not having spent a nickel of his own money or doing any time whatsoever):

Rep. Tom DeLay's decision to leave Congress ends his political problems, but his legal woes may be far from over.

The former House majority leader announced his resignation three days after court documents revealed that federal investigators have uncovered evidence of corruption in his leadership office. Tony Rudy, former deputy chief of staff to the powerful Republican congressman from Texas, admitted in a plea agreement that he sold his influence to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff while he was working for DeLay.

Rudy became the second former DeLay aide who's agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in return for a more lenient sentence.

"Any rational person in his (DeLay's) position would be very concerned," said Kendall Coffey, a former federal prosecutor who's now a prominent defense lawyer in Miami. "Whether it's working up the ladder at Enron or a drug organization, it's classic strategy to work up by getting plea agreements and cooperation at each level."

DeLay, who's under indictment in Texas in a separate case involving his handling of campaign contributions, hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing in the Abramoff influence-peddling scandal. The congressman says he was unaware of any illegal activity by Rudy or his former press secretary Michael Scanlon.

Scanlon and Abramoff also are cooperating with prosecutors as part of a plea bargain.
DeLay said his decision to step down had nothing to do with Rudy's plea bargain or any concerns about the criminal investigation.

"I have not been subpoenaed, I have not been talked to," he told National Public Radio. "I know you, the press, has a hard time believing it, but the truth is I am not a target of this investigation. Abramoff has nothing to do with me."


Immigration Bill

Obviously, the disastrous immigration bill failed in the Senate. But there is lots of speculation that Republicans wanted this to be contentious and get tabled, that they want this to be their issue going into the mid-term elections.

I thought even the compromose they came up with what God-awful, and served no one well.

More Drumbeating on Iranian Strike

Following up my previous post about the information at Nieman Watch, comes this information from Forward:

Key players in the Bush administration think a military confrontation with Iran is unavoidable, leading to stepped up military planning for such a prospect, according to several experts and recently departed senior government officials.

...Several experts and former officials interviewed by the Forward pointed to Vice President Dick Cheney as one of the key figures who has concluded that the ongoing diplomatic efforts to bring Iran before the United Nations Security Council and eventually slap the Islamic regime with sanctions will come to naught, forcing Washington to resort to force to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Cheney's office responded that he was "supporting the administration's position" of seeking a diplomatic solution while keeping all options on the table.

Iran, meanwhile, has also taken several public steps to suggest that it is preparing for a confrontation. Iranian officials recently announced with great fanfare that the military had tested several new weapons, including three new missiles and two new torpedoes, during maneuvers in the Persian Gulf. After Tehran successfully tested its second new torpedo, General Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani told Iranian state television Monday that the weapon is powerful enough to "break a heavy warship" in two. The torpedo was tested in the Straits of Hormuz, a vital corridor for oil supplies.

America, With the Largest Prison System in the World, Does a Miserable Job

Interesting that I had to go to the BBC in England to find this. Not unusual, however (sigh).

About the same time that President Bush was condemning the abuse of prisoners in Iraq as un-American, a year-long inquiry began into the mistreatment of prisoners at home.

The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons (CSAAP) issues its final report in about eight weeks time, but the testimony of violence, abuse and over-crowding it has already heard has shocked few familiar with the largest documented prison system in the world.

More than 2.1 million people are in jail in the US at any one time; that is about one in 140 Americans, or as many people as live in Namibia, or nearly five Luxembourgs - and it is a number that continues to rise.

One of the biggest drivers of the expanding population are the tough policies brought in over the last 20 years to tackle high crime rates - like the "three strikes" laws that hand out long, mandatory sentences to repeat offenders.

They are tactics the US government says are working - as recent figures have shown violent crime and murder falling.

But critics say that such policies have skewed the US system away from rehabilitation, storing up problems for the future.

Is U.S. Attack on Iran Closer? Some Believe So

From Nieman Watchdog:

Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Center at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writes in Foreign Policy magazine (registration required) that he used to think that the Bush administration wasn’t seriously considering a military strike on Iran. But now he thinks some U.S. officials have already decided they want to hit Iran hard.

“Three years after senior administration officials systematically misled the nation into a disastrous war, they could well be trying to do it again,” he writes.

“[A] military strike would be disastrous for the United States. It would rally the Iranian public around an otherwise unpopular regime, inflame anti-American anger around the Muslim world, and jeopardize the already fragile U.S. position in Iraq. And it would accelerate, not delay, the Iranian nuclear program. Hard-liners in Tehran would be proven right in their claim that the only thing that can deter the United States is a nuclear bomb. Iranian leaders could respond with a crash nuclear program that could produce a bomb in a few years.…

“The unfolding administration strategy appears to be an effort to repeat its successful campaign for the Iraq war. It is now trying to link Iran to the 9/11 attacks by repeatedly claiming that Iran is the main state sponsor of terrorism in the world (though this suggestion is highly questionable).”

In an interview with former New York Times foreign editor Bernard Gwertzman, on the Council on Foreign Relations Web site, Cirincione says: “I previously dismissed talk about U.S. military strikes as left-wing conspiracy theory and the kind of stuff that bloggers are chattering about on the Internet. But in just the past few weeks I've been convinced that at least some in the administration have already made up their minds that they would like to launch a military strike against Iran… I've also been convinced by some of the reports in the papers about discussions with the Israelis, for example, or even articles in the British press of leaked documents that indicate that the British believe that a military strike against Iran is inevitable….

“The Iranian threat is a serious one but it is not an imminent one. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon; it is not going to get a nuclear weapon this year or even this decade. The Iranians are at least ten years away from the ability to enrich uranium either for fuel rods or a nuclear weapon.” [Click here for a bio of Joseph Cirincione.]

WHO: Life Expectancy in Zimbabwe Lowest Anywhere in the World

Both men and women, on average, there do not live past the age of 40.

More Bad News from Baghdad

This report from Reuters brings the number of dead US Marines in Iraq just this week to 6 or 7:

An Iraqi soldier allegedly shot and killed a U.S. Marine at a base near the Syrian border, the U.S. said Friday. Another American Marine then wounded the Iraqi soldier.
Plus it was announced today that the U.S. military is way short of trained bomb teams in Iraq. This would seem especially bad since bombs in the principle way people DIE in Iraq these days.

McClellan Leak Facts Flip-Flop

If you're confused now, wait until you read this, also from Think Progress:

According to the White House, when the President authorized Scooter Libby to leak the classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to reporters – sometime before July 8, 2003 — it was declassified. But on July 18, 2003, Scott McClellan was asked when the NIE was declassified. McClellan said, “It was officially declassified today.”

Today, the White House press corps pounded McClellan about the glaring inconsistency. Watch it:
Gee, Scotty, which was it? Before July 18th three years ago or today? If today, I think we have an even bigger problem, no?

Four Department of Homeland Security Employees Now Under Child Porn/Solicitation Investigation

I brought you information earlier this week about two of them. Yesterday, there was another guy who had been soliciting a young girl.

Now this at ThinkProgress:

And then there were four.
“A high-ranking Defense Department IT official has been arrested and indicted on child pornography charges. … [C]ourt documents allege that Lynch had been operating a peer-to-peer file-sharing program on a computer in his office at DISA. Agents confiscated several computers and more than 1,000 CDs from Lynch’s office.”
Now, if the DHS is so good at checking out our security, why are they so piss poor at doing checks of their own damned people?

For example, Brian J. Doyle, the dipshit deputy secretary who solicited a lady sheriff's deputy posing as a 14-year-old girl, supposedly got into trouble when he worked at Time Magazine for having child porn on his work computer.

Four in one week. This isn't an embarrassment. It's far, far worse than that. We can't trust these people with stranger's children or our tax dollars. Why the hell would we trust national security to them?

The Leak-Hating Prez as Leaker-in-Chief

From the AP:

WASHINGTON - President Bush insists a president "better mean what he says." Those words could return to haunt him.

After long denouncing leaks of all kinds, Bush is confronted with a statement — unchallenged by his aides — that he authorized a leak of classified material to undermine an Iraq war critic.

The allegation in the CIA leak case threatens the credibility of a president already falling in the polls, and it gives Democrats fresh material to accuse him of hypocrisy.

"In politics, what gets bad gets worse," said GOP strategist Ed Rogers. "And we've been on a a bad roll for quite some time. We're in an environment now where every mistake is a metaphor."

Critics were quick to portray the Bush-leak report as a fresh sign of a failed Iraq policy, manipulated intelligence and a lack of presidential veracity. Honesty was once seen by Americans as one of Bush's strongest character traits, but polls show that perception has waned in Bush's second term.

Casablanca: Best Movie Script of All Time

Bergman: There's something I must tell you.
Bogey: What? That we'll always have Paris?
Bergman: No, silly. But I was outed by President Bush.
Bogey: No shit! Me, too!
Bergman: But it's OK. Scotty McClellan says it's legal.

Could Cost At Least $215 Billion to Remove 12 Million Illegal Immigrants

Ruinous costs indeed:

As Congress debates immigration reforms, some experts say the most extreme proposal — deporting millions of illegal immigrants — would be a huge legal and logistical morass, and ruinously expensive, too.

Officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which would be responsible for deportations, said they have no projections on what it would take to rid the United States of an estimated 12 million people.

But the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, has put the cost at $215 billion over five years.

The study assumed that a crackdown would prompt a quarter of the nation's illegal immigrants to leave voluntarily, leaving 9 million men, women and children to deport.

"I think a lot of people are making emotional calls on this issue without thinking through the cost to taxpayers," said study author Rajeev Goyle, a lecturer at Wichita State University. "It would be an unbearable cost that would bankrupt the treasury. It would cost more annually than the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security, twice that of the annual cost of the war in Iraq."

New Horrors: Deadliest Bombing in Iraq This Year

From the AP:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Suicide bombers, one dressed as a woman, blasted worshippers as they left a Shiite mosque after Friday prayers, killing at least 79 people and wounding more than 160 in the deadliest attack in Iraq this year.
And Condi Rice calls the U.S., whose presence is the sole reason this shit is going on, Iraq's best friend. Like I say, I'd hate to meet the country's worst enemy.

Bush/GOP Hit Yet More Approval Lows

I can't believe he remains even this high, considering:

WASHINGTON - President Bush has hit new lows in public opinion for his handling of Iraq and the war on terror and for his overall job performance. Polling also shows the Republican Party surrendering its advantage on national security.

The AP-Ipsos survey is loaded with grim election-year news for a party struggling to stay in power. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction — the largest percentage during the Bush presidency and up 13 points from a year ago.

"These numbers are scary. We've lost every advantage we've ever had," GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said. "The good news is Democrats don't have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one."

We Taxpayers May Have to Keep Paying Tom DeLay As Soon As He's Gone

I am livid! Gee, is your pension so lucrative? People like DeLay have zero problem letting corporate American cancel employee retirement promises. So why should we pay for his?

From the Houston Chronicle:

WASHINGTON - When he resigns in a few months, U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay immediately will be eligible for a congressional pension of nearly $67,000 a year.

The Sugar Land Republican, who will turn 59 on Saturday, would get a total of about $1.3 million in pension payouts in the next 20 years alone. DeLay also will be eligible to participate in the health plan available to all federal retirees.

His pension would be unaffected by any conviction on the campaign finance charges he faces in Travis County or any charges rising from the congressional lobbying scandal in which two of his former aides, and former ally and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, have pleaded guilty.

Gonzales: Bushies Won't Rule Out Extending NSA Phone Surveillance to Only-in-U.S. Calls

There is just no limit to what these people will do. The U.S. Constitution is toilet paper to them and the Bill of Rights a paper napkin to wipe up gravy from their "freedom" fries.

Also from TalkLeft:

The Bush Administration may be running on empty when it comes to the warrantless NSA electronic surveillance program. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified Wednesday at a Senate subcommittee hearing on budget needs, and even Republicans like Sensenbrenner weren't buying it:
    Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States -- a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

    In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.

    "I'm not going to rule it out," Gonzales said.
Up until Wednesday, the Administration refused to address the question of authority to engage in warrantless eavesdroppoing of purely domestic calls.

Give Your Opinion in MSNBC Poll: Did Bush Mislead Nation into Iraq War

Vote here.

So far, here's the score with 75641 respondents:



Thank YOU, AT&T

Posted by TChris at TalkLeft, news from Wired that AT&T bent way over backwards to supply information to the NSA for its illegal spying on US citizens:

Ryan Singel at Wired News has the latest on the class action lawsuit against AT&T for turning over customer records to the feds in Bush's warrantless NSA surveillance program.
    AT&T provided NSA eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.

    Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.
Boo! Hiss!

Libby Fingers Bush

This (cough) highly unfortunate headline was in today's Times-Argus (Barre, VT) related to the Libby outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

I mean, I have a squeaky clean mind and it struck even moi as... unfortunate. We'll leave it at that. (cough)


This Could Give a Whole New Meaning to Being a Judas

The Gospel of Judas.

I don't know: it sounds a little like GOP revisionist history to me.

Yet More Human Remains Found Near World Trade Center

Five years later and yet still they find body fragments.

From the wires:

NEW YORK - Construction workers near the World Trade Center discovered 74 more bone fragments on a damaged skyscraper being prepared for demolition, the largest discovery of human remains since cleanup of the building began last fall, officials said.

Investigators reviewing emergency calls from the morning of the terrorist attacks also identified eight more recordings of emergency dispatches and 911 calls from the towers that had previously been overlooked.

Most of the bone fragments discovered over the weekend were found mixed with gravel that had been raked to the sides of the roof of the former Deutsche Bank building, which suffered extensive damage when the twin towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the city medical examiner, said workers still had more than 100 yards of material to rake through and said she wouldn't be surprised by the discovery of additional remains.

"What they've cleared on the weekend was just a very small area. They still have quite a lot to go," Borakove said Thursday.

Is the Video of Burning Pilot Legit?

From the wire services:

Gunmen shouting "God is Great!" dragged the burning body of what they said was a U.S. pilot in a horrific video posted Wednesday on the Web by a new al-Qaida-affiliated group that claimed it shot down an Apache helicopter last weekend.

On Thursday the U.S. military said Iraqi forces have captured the prime suspect in last year's kidnapping of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena.

Mohammed Hila Hammad Obeidi, also known as Abu Ayman, was arrested in southern Baghdad on March 7 but the announcement was delayed pending DNA tests to verify his identity, the U.S. command said in a statement.

Abu Ayman is believed to have led the Secret Islamic Army in Babil province south of Baghdad and is said to have close ties to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaida in Iraq. He was also an aide to the chief of staff of intelligence during Saddam Hussein's regime, the U.S. statement said.

Also Thursday, roadside bombings in Iraq killed two security forces and wounded at least 12, officials said.

One of the bombs exploded near a police patrol in western Baghdad, killing a policeman and wounding five, officials said. A second bomb detonated when another group of police arrived at the scene, wounding two more policemen.

North of the capital, an Iraqi army patrol was also hit by a roadside bomb, killing one officer and wounding five soldiers outside the city of Baqouba.

Meanwhile Wednesday, the U.S. military expressed outrage over the release of "such a despicable video for public exposure" but said it had serious doubts that the footage was authentic.

The AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter was downed near Youssifiyah about 12 miles southwest of Baghdad on Saturday, killing the two pilots. A U.S. statement said troops had recovered "all available remains" although "reports of a Web site video suggest that terrorists removed part of a body from the crash site."

The flaming wreckage of a helicopter could be seen clearly in the video, including outlines of the aircraft's blades and jagged pieces of wreckage strewn over a field.

The camera panned over bloodstained debris, then showed several men dragging the burning body of a man across a field as they shouted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Great!" Voices could be heard in the background shouting "come, come, help me carry it."

The body's face was not visible, but the camera zoomed in on what appeared to be his waistline, which showed a scrap of underwear with the brand name "Hanes." It appeared the the man was wearing tattered digital camouflage fatigues, which are worn by U.S. troops in Iraq.

The time stamp on the video which shows the minutes and seconds do not run sequentially, and the scenes appear disjointed. The posting also included bombing scenes filmed elsewhere, indicating the material had been edited as a propaganda package.

Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the command, said the wreckage shown on the video "does appear to be an AH-64" but added that other helicopters of that type have been lost.

"We have serious doubts about the authenticity of this video, a common tactic we see terrorist groups use to keep the stories they want alive in the media," he said.

But in Alexandria, Va., Ben Venzke, head of IntelCenter, a defense contractor which monitors militant statements, said it appeared on first viewing that the tape was authentic. Although the date stamp on the video was Sunday, April 2, a day after the crash, Venzke said the discrepancy could be simply a technical error in the setting.

"Based on an initial review of the footage, it would seem to indicate the downing of a helicopter and the removal of crew and passengers from the craft," he said. "On an initial review, it does appear to be what it purports to be."

He said the large amount of background chatter among those on the ground suggested that "it was filmed closely after the downing of the helicopter as opposed to something that was found later and staged."

Bushies Nuclear Plan

OK, tell me how we can do this but we feel we have the moral right to tell Iran or any other country what they can and can't do?

From the Chicago Trib:

The Bush administration Wednesday unveiled a blueprint for rebuilding the nation's decrepit nuclear weapons complex, including restoration of a large-scale bomb manufacturing capacity.

The plan calls for the most sweeping realignment and modernization of the nation's massive system of laboratories and factories for nuclear bombs since the end of the Cold War.

Until now, the nation has depended on carefully maintaining aging bombs produced during the Cold War arms race, some several decades old. The administration, however, wants the capability to turn out 125 new nuclear bombs per year by 2022, as the Pentagon retires older bombs that it says will no longer be reliable or safe.

Under the plan, all of the nation's plutonium would be consolidated into a single facility that could be more effectively and cheaply defended against possible terrorist attacks. The plan would remove the plutonium kept at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory by 2014, though transfers of the material could start sooner. In recent years, concern has grown that Livermore, surrounded by residential neighborhoods in the Bay Area, could not repel a terrorist attack.

But the administration blueprint is facing sharp criticism, both from those who say it does not move fast enough to consolidate plutonium stores and from those who say restarting bomb production would encourage aspiring nuclear powers across the globe to develop weapons.

The plan was outlined to Congress on Wednesday by Thomas D'Agostino, head of nuclear weapons programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration, a part of the Energy Department. Though the weapons proposal would restore the capacity to make new bombs, D'Agostino said it was part of a larger effort to accelerate the dismantling of aging bombs left from the Cold War.

D'Agostino acknowledged in an interview that the administration was walking a fine line by modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons program while assuring other nations that it was not seeking a new arms race. The credibility of the contention rests on the U.S. intent to sharply reduce its inventory of weapons.

Scott McClellan, White House Spokes Cypher

Michael Wolff writes a fascinating piece on Bush's mouthpiece before the White House press corps. No, seriously, it's interesting in a very depressing, sad way.

Well, at least Michael Wolff is interesting. I suspect there really is no hope for Scotty, whose father is a loon.

My Moral Politics - I Think

From Republic of T, I was pointed to Presumptive Karma ("Sacred Cows, Slaughtered Daily"), which directed me to Moral Politics to take a test to see how I scored.

I scored in a confusing manner, apparently. Hmm....

Here we go:

"Would You Care for a Little Soda With Your Benzene?"

Well, tough, because you're going to get the benzene anyway!

Story here. And thanks to the FDA for being so clear about it. Gee, I didn't think there were exactly safe benzene levels for human consumption.

Iraq's Bestest Friend

I caught Condi Rice's interview with someone today - who probably doesn't matter since almost all of the sad press corps lobs her only softball questions that she always answers haltingly, like she's lying even when, perhaps, she is not - in which she said something like this:

"Iraq has had no better friend than the United States."

Uh, really?

We talk about rebuilding schools and hospitals and the infrastructure and electricity, but those things were in place and operational when we went in during March 2003. We took them out. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis have died under us.

Far more people there are going hungry, homeless, scared, without family or jobs than ever before. They see violence and American occupation everywhere they look.

So are we really Iraq's best friend? Because, if we are, I sure as hell don't want to meet Iraq's mortal enemy.

Good Question; Piss Poor Answer


President Bush, told by a critic he should be ashamed of his policies, defended the government's secret eavesdropping program Thursday and said he would not apologize for listening in on the phone and e-mail conversations of Americans talking to people with suspected al-Qaida links.

A man who identified himself as Harry Taylor rose at a forum here to tell Bush that he's never felt more ashamed of the leadership of his country. He said Bush has asserted his right to tap phone calls without a warrant, to arrest people and hold them without charges and to revoke a woman's right to an abortion, among other things.

He was booed by the audience, but Bush interrupted and urged the audience to let Taylor finish.

"I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administraiton," Taylor said, standing in a balcony seat and looking down at Bush on stage. "And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself."

Bush defended the National Security Administration's survelliance program, saying he authorized the program to protect the country.

"You said would I apologize for that?" Bush told him. "The answer is absolutely not."

The Bush (Dis)Approval Pie Chart Breakdown

Shakespeare's Sister shares this loverly pie chart with us. I like it!


I just realized, through no effort to keep her off, I had failed to list Media Girl on my blogroll. The oversight has been corrected.

Uh... MissM? Is yours public and, if so, can I list it? I enjoy reading you. :)

If I'm missing someone else, shout at me (but not too loudly, I have small and sensitive earholes - tyvm).

Duke LaCrosse Mess

Someone sent a note today asking why I hadn't commented on the Duke LaCrosse case where at least three white members of the team are accused of raping and tormenting an African American exotic dancer. Today comes word the team's coach has resigned.

Well, probably like everyone, I'm appalled at the story being presented in the media, especially after the alleged email from a team member stating he wanted to hire another dancer and do to her even worse than had been done to the first young woman. But I'm not sure I have much to add.

Right now, it is an alleged case. I hope the matter is investigated fully. Yes, even prostitutes - and there is no evidence an exotic dancer is, by definition, a prostitute, I want to add - can be raped so I'm further appalled by a few of the right-most blogs where I've seen comments left that said the girl should have known what might happen to her before she went.

How exactly does one expect rape? I've been abused in that manner, and I certainly can't say I expected it.

Jon Stewart Does John McCain Far Better Than Tim Russert

If you missed Jon Stewart's interview with Mr. Madhatter John McCain, Crooks and Liars has you covered. It's far better than his Meet the Press/Russert interview last weekend.

Bird Flu

Well, we're back to discussing this endlessly in the media with the first documented case of avian flu now reported in Great Britain.

If you think Bush's approval ratings are low now, wait until we see what happens here when the bird flu makes the disastrous Hurricane Katrina response look like another 9/11 morning where the president just sits there smiling through "My Pet Goat" while planes continue to hit buildings.

What the U.S. Does to Prisoners with Rendition

Check this out from the UK Independent.

Bush Lied (Again and Again and....)

Just to be clear on the disclosure from court documents that Bush authorized the leak of CIA operative Plame's name...

Remember, Bush came out and said that he didn't know. That if he found out someone at the White House did this - and he was SURE they had not - he would get to the bottom of it, and implied that punishment would happen.

For the rabid right who loves to remind us about Bill Clinton's unfortunate lie that he did not have "sex with that woman", I would like them to remember that if anything, Bush has proven himself again and again to be not only an enemy of the American people, but a specific enemy of our military (lying us into war, lettings Rumsfeld continue doing an atrocious job) and those charged with fighting his so-called War of (T)errorism with the outing of a CIA agent, the bad treatment of whistle blowers like Coleen Rowley, and others.

What more proof is possibly needed of this?

Krugman Reads John McCain

I like it, although I like McCain less and less with each passing statement.

From ToppleBush:

Well, I'll be damned. At least, that's what the Rev. Jerry Falwell says. Last month Mr. Falwell issued a statement explaining that, in his view, Jews can't go to heaven unless they convert to Christianity. And what Mr. Falwell says matters -- maybe not in heaven, but here on earth. After all, he's a kingmaker in today's Republican Party.

Senator John McCain obviously believes that he can't get the Republican presidential nomination without Mr. Falwell's approval. During the 2000 campaign, Mr. McCain denounced Mr. Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance." But next month Mr. McCain will be a commencement speaker at Liberty University, which Mr. Falwell founded.

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Mr. McCain was asked to explain his apparent flip-flop. "I believe," he replied, "that the Christian right has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is because they're so active and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be a part of our party."

So what has happened since the 2000 campaign to convince Mr. McCain that Mr. Falwell is not, in fact, an agent of intolerance?

...And that's why it's important to hold someone like Mr. McCain -- who is still widely regarded as a moderate, in spite of his extremely conservative voting record -- accountable when he cozies up to Mr. Falwell. Nobody thinks that Mr. McCain shares all of Mr. Falwell's views. But when Mr. McCain said that the Christian right has a right to be part of the Republican Party, he was in effect saying that Mr. Falwell's statements are within the realm of acceptable political discourse.

Just to be clear: this is a free country, and Mr. Falwell has a right to say what he thinks, even if his views include the belief that other people, by saying what they think, brought down God's wrath on America. By the same token, any political party has a right to include Mr. Falwell and his supporters, just as any politician has a right to make a political alliance with Mr. Falwell.

But if you choose to make common cause with religious extremists, you are accepting some responsibility for their extremism. By welcoming Mr. Falwell and people like him as members of their party, Republicans are saying that it's O.K. -- not necessarily correct, but O.K. -- to declare that 9/11 was America's punishment for its tolerance of abortion and homosexuality, that Islam is a terrorist religion, and that Jews can't go to heaven. And voters should judge the Republican Party accordingly.

As for Mr. McCain: his denunciation of Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson six years ago helped give him a reputation as a moderate on social issues. Now that he has made up with Mr. Falwell and endorsed South Dakota's ban on abortion even in the case of rape or incest, only two conclusions are possible: either he isn't a social moderate after all, or he's a cynical political opportunist.

Microsoft to Issue 5 Security Fixes


From WaPo:

Microsoft today said it plans to issue at least five free software updates next week to fix security flaws in its Windows operating system and other software products.

At least one of the updates will carry a "critical" rating, which Microsoft assigns to flaws that could be used by attackers or automated computer worms to take over vulnerable computers without any action on the part of the user.

Microsoft is expected to issue several updates for its Internet Explorer Web browser, including one to fix a flaw that criminals have been using to plant spyware on computers when users merely visit one of hundreds of malicious Web sites.

As usual, Security Fix will have more details when Microsoft releases the patches on Tuesday.

Scooter Libby: President Bush Approved Leak of CIA Operative Plame to Press

Damning information in court documents. From The Times:

Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide told prosecutors President Bush authorized the leak of sensitive intelligence information about Iraq, according to court papers filed by prosecutors in the CIA leak case.

Before his indictment, I. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury investigating the CIA leak that Cheney told him to pass on information and that it was Bush who authorized the disclosure, the court papers say. According to the documents, the authorization led to the July 8, 2003, conversation between Libby and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

There was no indication in the filing that either Bush or Cheney authorized Libby to disclose Valerie Plame's CIA identity.

But the disclosure in documents filed Wednesday means that the president and the vice president put Libby in play as a secret provider of information to reporters about prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Then, of course, the Times spins is to say that Bush's opponents are "leaping" with joy on this information.

I don't see any joy in this. I may NOT like the CIA or the dirty stuff it pulls. But outing a CIA operative JUST to discredit her husband is beyond evil. Other lives were endangered by this. It also must be a CHILLING message to the CIA that the president will happily hang them out to dry for the slightest transgression. All of this just to make Bush and Cheney happy.

Joy? Horror from this Bush opponent. No matter how many times I've heard evidence of this, it still chills me to the core.

Campaign Finance Reform By Cutting Average Americans Out

The WaPo details this disastrous campaign finance reform effort where the Republicans basically cut out the efforts of 527s that get their funding through average Americans like the grassroots people who contributed to Howard Dean, et al. Senate Dems vow to fight it but... when was the last time you noticed that working recently?

Tom DeLay: Quit Before He Was "Fired"?

Read this from Tom DeLay's neighborhood and you get the distinct impression that the Texas GOP told Tom to get outta town because he would lose otherwise. Also sounds like they intend to do whatever it takes to keep anyone else but their chosen one from taking that seat, no matter what the law says.

Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.

Rumsfeld to Condi Rice: What Mistakes?

Interesting that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answered Secretary of State Condi Rice's disclosure last week that "thousands of mistakes" had been committed in Iraq with a "what? who? me?"

From the WaPo:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war "errors" reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.

"Why? Because the enemy's got a brain; the enemy watches what you do and then adjusts to that, so you have to constantly adjust and change your tactics, your techniques and your procedures," Rumsfeld told interviewer Scott Hennen, according to a Defense Department transcript. "If someone says, well, that's a tactical mistake, then I guess it's a lack of understanding, at least my understanding, of what warfare is about."
However, as noted elsewhere, there seems to be a systematic effort within the White House - and Condi is VERY close to the prez - to make Iraq seem like entirely Rummy's problem to defer criticism from Bush-Cheney.

What an Endorsement!

Ann Coulter - dear Ann-Thrax - called Tom DeLay an incredibly honorable man.

Those two deserve one another.


CBS News - How Low Can it Go?

I don't even know what to say about the completely silly, disastrous decision CBS made to hire Katie Couric to head their news department.

Couric is no journalist. She's perky and precious and all of that, and she'll certainly market any dipshit thing Les Moonves (head of CBS programming) wants. She won't ever be controversial.

But she's a piss-poor choice and clear indication the network no longer intends to do any news. Supposedly, the entire news dept at CBS is very, very upset about it.

That Couric could become the first solo woman to anchor a major network news show is a little like saying Condi Rice or Hillary Clinton could become the first woman president. In other words, sure, it's an achievement, but there are such better qualified women for the job that it just makes you sick that the ones chosen are so uninspired and unbefitting of the sacred trust and position.

DHS Official Arrested Last Night NOT the First DHS Child Predator

From TPM Muckraker - and why the hell IS child porn and such under the Department of Homeland Security anyway? That's a good question even BEFORE we learned that DHS seems to be filled with sanctimonious pedophiles who AREN'T - as the rabid right would have us believe - gay:

As I noted earlier, a senior Homeland Security Department law enforcement agent was busted last October for exposing himself to a girl in the food court of a mall.

Next to the recent arrest of DHS spokesman Brian Doyle on child sex charges, this was just one more reason to take Operation Predator away from DHS, I said. "Predator" is the agency's program to bust child sex criminals.

Now we discover -- that law enforcement agent, Frank Figueroa, used to run Operation Predator.

The victim, a 16-year-old girl, said Figueroa pulled up a leg of his shorts, exposed himself and masturbated for about 10 minutes, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Figueroa was in court this morning; he pleaded no contest to charges of exposure of sexual organs and disorderly conduct He had formerly said he was not guilty. His trial is expected to begin tomorrow..

Bush Hands Rich Another Big Perk While American Middle Class Dies Away

From the New York Times:

The first data to document the effect of President Bush's tax cuts for investment income show that they have significantly lowered the tax burden on the richest Americans, reducing taxes on incomes of more than $10 million by an average of about $500,000.

An analysis of Internal Revenue Service data by The New York Times found that the benefit of the lower taxes on investments was far more concentrated on the very wealthiest Americans than the benefits of Mr. Bush's two previous tax cuts: on wages and other noninvestment income.

When Congress cut investment taxes three years ago, it was clear that the highest-income Americans would gain the most, because they had the most money in investments. But the size of the cuts and what share goes to each income group have not been known.

As Congress debates whether to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, The Times analyzed I.R.S. figures for 2003, the latest year available and the first that reflected the tax cuts for income from dividends and from the sale of stock and other assets, known as capital gains.

The analysis found the following:

¶Among taxpayers with incomes greater than $10 million, the amount by which their investment tax bill was reduced averaged about $500,000 in 2003, and total tax savings, which included the two Bush tax cuts on compensation, nearly doubled, to slightly more than $1 million.

¶These taxpayers, whose average income was $26 million, paid about the same share of their income in income taxes as those making $200,000 to $500,000 because of the lowered rates on investment income.

¶Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more, about one-tenth of 1 percent all taxpayers, reaped 43 percent of all the savings on investment taxes in 2003. The savings for these taxpayers averaged about $41,400 each. By comparison, these same Americans received less than 10 percent of the savings from the other Bush tax cuts, which applied primarily to wages, though that share is expected to grow in coming years.

The Jose Padilla Case

The Village Voice offers an excellent article this week on why the case of Jose Padilla, the American citizen held now for 3 1/2 years without any charges being filed against him but villified by the Bushies as a terrorist mastermind (of course, every Taco Bell minimum wage worker qualifies as a mastermind) threatens us all.

I encourage you to read it, and to think about it.


Our Supreme Court

Read this about the opportunity lost and... perhaps like me... weep.

I Think NewsMax Overshot April Fool's Day By a Few

Because I just saw THIS on Yahoo.

Help Young Republicans Through Bingo

The General, once again, has devised a very, very, - did I mention? - very helpful Bingo card to help Young Republicans tender all the right reasons for NOT signing up for their great leader's War in Error on Terror.

Squint here, but you really want to go THERE to read it all.

Nice work, JC!

Congratulations to the 2005 Koufax Awards Winners

You can find them here. As usual, there were so many good blogs and bloggers in the running that I think the true winners are those of us who get to read them.

Man's Best Mate? You'll Feel Like An Ass When You Hear

[Shaking head, muttering...]

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A textbook used at schools in the Indian state of Rajasthan compares housewives to donkeys, and suggests the animals make better companions as they complain less and are more loyal to their "masters," The Times of India reported Tuesday.

Protecting Us From What?

Unbleeping believable.

MSNBC just announced that the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland (in)Security has just been arrested for soliciting sex with a woman he was told was just 14 years old and for the possession and/or distribution of pornographic material related to minors.

Is DHS Secretary Chertoff going to blame this on the simpering ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown who in turn blames it on everyone else? I mean, none of the Bushies ever take responsibility for anything unless they perceive it, even incorrectly, as praise.

DHS only seems to exist to:

- cut sweetheart deal for no-bid contracts for Bush friendly pals
- come up with a dipshit color-coded system and advise us to stock up on tape
- point fingers at others
- screw up security even further
- and now, apparently lure children to online sex

Great. Just great.

Bad Hair Day

Even MY hair doesn't look that bad in the morning in hot and humid weather. But HE paid to look like that! There simply is no justice for the rich, y'know.

Say Hello to Chronological Oddity

From the wires (again):

Call it a coincidental sign of our digital times or a reason to stay up late and stare at the clock. Either way, early Wednesday morning the time and date will be 01-02-03-04-05-06.

At 1:02 a.m. and three seconds on Wednesday, April 5, 2006, it will be the first hour of the day, the second minute of the hour, the third second of that precious minute in the fourth month of the fifth year of ... uh oh. It's not really the sixth year.

It's actually 2006 — only in our shorthand is it '06.

Taking the Malice out of Malware

Stranger at Blah3 shares this from eWeek:

...and what they have to say is pretty goddam depressing.
    In a rare discussion on the severity of the Windows malware scourge, a Microsoft security official said businesses should consider investing in an automated process to wipe hard drives and reinstall operating systems as a practical way to recover from malware infestation. "When you are dealing with rootkits and some advanced spyware programs, the only solution is to rebuild from scratch. In some cases, there really is no way to recover without nuking the systems from orbit," Mike Danseglio, program manager in the Security Solutions group at Microsoft, said in a presentation at the InfoSec World conference here. Offensive rootkits, which are used hide malware programs and maintain an undetectable presence on an infected machine, have become the weapon of choice for virus and spyware writers and, because they often use kernel hooks to avoid detection, Danseglio said IT administrators may never know if all traces of a rootkit have been successfully removed.
As you may recall, I got hit bad with something like this last Thanksgiving. I'd never seen anything corrupt an entire office like this did, and I'm quite technically savvy.

LA Times: Frist Senate Leadership Seen as Entirely Self-Serving


WASHINGTON — As he prepares to leave the Senate and position himself for a presidential bid, Bill Frist faces mounting criticism that he has proved an ineffectual majority leader whose legislative agenda increasingly is dictated by his White House ambitions.

Complaints about the patrician Tennessean by fellow Republicans intensified this week, sparked by his decision to force Senate debate on illegal immigration. Some GOP lawmakers say his move spotlighted a squabble within the party over a hot-button issue in an election year.

"We should have had a much more ambitious process of trying to build consensus and bringing people and different views together before we engaged in debate on the Senate floor," Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) told reporters.But grumbling about the majority leader and the decisions he has made were evident before the flap over immigration.
Even God Almighty knows that the Senate only exists to serve Bill Frist's personal president-seeking agenda.

And who can possibly forget his WRONG diagnosis of Terri Schiavo made by a doctored (cough) videotape?

Even a Rap Mogul Can't Survive Without Filing for Bankruptcy in a Bush Economy

Rap mogul Suge Knight just filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy so he can keep control of Death Row Records.

They Don't Like Him Either?

From the wires:

WASHINGTON - From Iraq to deficits, from immigration to port security, some of the most pointed criticism leveled at
President Bush is coming from within his own party. Republicans these days are almost sounding like perennially divided Democrats.

The rising GOP angst stems from Bush's deep slump in the polls and the growing unpopularity of the Iraq war.

But it also reflects a political reawakening as Republicans follow their own political interests in this midterm election year and as would-be 2008 presidential contenders seek ways to set themselves apart — from each other and from Bush.

"It's open season on him. George Bush has lost trust on too many issues," said presidential historian Thomas E. Cronin of Colorado College. "We saw it happen with Johnson, we saw it with Nixon. And now, sadly, we're seeing it with Bush."

The only solace to frustrated Republicans could be that Democrats seem to be struggling themselves to come up with unified positions on Iraq and many other major issues.
Ah, but the Reps are just trying to distance themselves from him because it's a mid-year election cycle and the American people are so very tired of Mr. Bush's pouting, braggart frat-boy style of leadership.

DeLay: A Chronology of Greed, Excess, Corruption, and Illegal Acts

The Washington Post offers us this timeline of events for Hot Tub Tom DeLay, who's busy yesterday and today telling us we won't have him to kick around anymore. Let's see if this holds true for the prosecutor since Tom is telling people that, after June, he won't have to answer any damn questions.

And On the Issue of Tom DeLay, Is This Behind His Announcement Not to Run and His Desire to Oust Prosecutor?

From the Washington Post, and I suspect it very much relates to the timing of his no-run announcement and his dissing of prosecutor Earle despite his lawyer's insistent denial:

The pending resignation of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), once one of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington, comes amid a federal criminal investigation that already has reached into his inner circle of longtime advisers.

DeLay faces a trial later this year on money-laundering charges in Texas that stems from an October 2005 indictment related to corporate contributions to state elections in 2001 and 2002. Since then, two former aides and one of his most prominent contributors have pleaded guilty in a separate federal probe to crimes including conspiracy; wire, tax and mail fraud; and corruption of public officials.

The picture appeared to darken further last week with the guilty plea of Tony C. Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff. Edwin A. Buckham, the lawmaker's former chief of staff and his closest political and spiritual adviser, was described in court documents filed in the case as someone who collaborated with Rudy, Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former DeLay aide Michael Scanlon. They arranged payments, trips and favors that the department's investigators charged were part of an illegal conspiracy, according to the documents.

DeLay himself was formally designated as "Representative #2" in the documents, a title that cannot be considered a good omen. The lawmaker designated in the same documents as Representative #1 -- Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) -- has been cited by the Justice Department as having received "things of value" for performing official acts.

...DeLay and Buckham also have not been accused of wrongdoing by federal prosecutors, and they have asserted their innocence. But some of DeLay's official actions in Congress clearly fall within the scope of the continuing investigation: Last week's guilty plea by Rudy cites as part of the evidence of conspiracy a letter that DeLay wrote on behalf of an Abramoff client and legislation that DeLay supported on behalf of a client of Abramoff's firm.

DeLay has assembled a substantial legal team to fight back, and he has a defense fund -- financed largely by corporations with business before Congress -- that contained more than $600,000 at the end of last year, based on the cumulative record of its receipts and contributions. But contributions to the fund dropped from $318,000 to $181,500 between the third and fourth quarters of 2005.

DeLay also is entitled under federal election rules to convert any or all of the remaining funds from his reelection campaign to his legal expenses, whether or not he resigns, is indicted or loses the election. Election lawyers say one advantage of bowing out of the election now is that the campaign cash can be converted to pay legal bills immediately, instead of being drained in the course of a bid to stay in office.
So he gets to pocket all that money. Some sweet deal for the bug man.

The Next Trick Up Bug Man Tom DeLay's Sleeve? Exterminate the Prosecutor

Judd at Think Progress breaks this ugly bit of bugdom:

On an interview this morning on Fox News Radio’s Tony Snow Show, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) revealed a plan to have the Texas legislature oust district attorney Ronnie Earle, the prosecutor who charged DeLay with money laundering:
    SNOW: Okay, so at this point, you know — are you willing to let bygones be bygones?
    DELAY: Absolutely not. Texas should not allow a district attorney from Travis County have this kind of power. And they can take his power away from him because there was the Texas legislature that gave him this power. And I think that will happen in the next session of the Texas legislature.
    SNOW: Oh, really?
    DELAY: Yes.
DeLay sounds like someone who is really confident of his ability to win on the merits in a court of law.
No, this is no surprise. DeLay's whole modus operandi is to squash any bug that gets in his way.

But I don't want to see this happen. Earle has seemed pretty even handed in his investigations and prosecutions, which is how it should be. Prosecutions should not be political and partisan, although they too often are.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Sues Spyware Company Over Pop Ups

Interesting. I never know quite how to feel about this.

I do believe companies are far too invasive and aggressive in pushing stuff at us. But I also don't want to see government intruding everywhere either.

Corporate Media and the Protests

Anyone else notice that both in France with the labor protests and here with the immigration demonstrations, corporate-owned CNN and other news agencies are using very inflammatory language toward the demonstrators?

"Troublemakers", "people with nothing better to do", "thugs" are just some of the phrases CNN has used to describe them. While last week, dim bulb and Rush Limbaugh's sweetie, host Daryn Kagan suggested the kids demonstrating against the immigration changes "would be better off in classes where they could learn something".

Dissing the Miss

Missile Defense Project, Bush's Reagan Redux Star Wars wunderkind pet project, that is.

Posted by Majikthise:

A senior analyst from the Government Accountability Office is accusing his agency of ignoring scientific fraud perpetrated by defense contrators working a $26 billion missile defense system.
    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.
Gee, the damned thing doesn't work. Who'd a thunk it (besides several million of us who have said it for more than twenty fucking years)?


When You Want to Make a Call Without Inviting the Feds to Join in...

Check THIS out:

How easy is it for the average internet user to make a phone call secure enough to frustrate the NSA's extrajudicial surveillance program?

Wired News took Phil Zimmermann's newest encryption software, Zfone, for a test drive and found it's actually quite easy, even if the program is still in beta.

Zimmermann, the man who released the PGP e-mail encryption program to the world in 1991 -- only to face an abortive criminal prosecution from the government -- has been trying for 10 years to give the world easy-to-use software to cloak internet phone calls.

On March 14, Zimmermann released a beta version of the widely anticipated Zfone. The software is currently available only for OS X (Tiger) and Linux, though a Windows version is due in April.

The open-source software manages cryptographic handshakes invisibly, and encrypts and decrypts voice calls as the traffic leaves and enters the computer. Operation is simple, and users don't have to agree in advance on an encryption key or type out long passcodes to make it work.

Who is the Most Foolish American?

Well, Michael Jackson tops the list. But our belubbed leader, George ("How do you spell Dubya?") Bush and his belubbed leader, Duck! It's Dick! Cheney, come in close behind in this Brit poll.


Iraq on the Ballot in Some Wisconsin Communities

In a story brought to us by Where We Are Bound comes this piece from the Milwaukee Channel on how the issue of Iraq and the direction we've taken there is ending up on some ballots in Wisconsin. Check it out.

What (New) is Rotten in Bush's Social Security Denmark?

Posted by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, which also links back to the story's coverage on Atrios' Eschaton:

A bit more follow up on this issue of this year's Social Security actuarial report. Atrios got hold of this portion of the Social Security Act which mandates that the annual report be released no later than April 1st of each year. It's only April 3rd so it's not that late -- black letter law notwithstanding. But Matt Yglesias called Treasury Department public affairs and was told not only that it isn't out yet but that there's not even any timeline or projected date when it will be released.

This administration doesn't play fast and loose with the law on Social Security for nothing. Something's up.
Something is definitely up.

Anyone have any ideas?

McCain: US in Iran=Armageddon?

As I mentioned, McCain lately is scaring me.

But I still got nervous when I saw a link from Buzzflash to a NewsMax article with McCain talking about Iran. Specifically:

2008 presidential hopeful John McCain said Sunday that the consequences of a military conflict with Iran over that country's nuclear program could be so serious they could lead to "Armageddon."

The Arizona Republican issued his dire warning after saying that before any military option against Iran is exercised, the world community must first put maximum pressure on Tehran through sanctions.

"We're going to the United Nations Security Council with our European allies," he told NBC's "Meet the Press." "We are seeking sanctions . . . . We must have sanctions against Iran."
McCain said that if sanctions fail, the U.S. must be prepared to resort to the use of military force.
We MUST resort to military force?

Who died and left us boss?

Who died and left us boss with the power to decide that Iran can't have what Israel has, what India has, and what we have many, many thousands of times over?

Somebody get Johnny Boy some thorazine.

Have We Been Hammered Enough by the Whip? Yes, But I Doubt It's All Over

Tom DeLay has announced he will not run for re-election as Congressman from Texas.

This is not enough, however. I want his prosecution to go forward and I would like to see measures taken that completely exclude him from any future political role including becoming a lobbyist.

Taking the McKinney Thing a Tad Too Far

Saturday, I posted about the whole Cynthia McKinney brouhaha where the Capitol police went after her because they said she did not show proper ID, and McKinney, a Congresswoman who recently won re-election after being unseated in Georgia, says she was accosted by one of the officers.

Notably, I mentioned how the right-wing really goes after her, using words they would never allow to be used for a Tom DeLay or a Denny Hastert or a similar type of squirrel meat. Joe Scarborough on his MSNBC program tonight called her "crazy Cynthia McKinney", for example. There have also been numerous extremely rude and clearly ethnic references to her hair. One guy the other day seemed to be struggling very hard to find a word that meant the unfortunate "jigaboo" without getting slimed for actually saying jigaboo.

Tonight? TPM Muckraker provides this:

The Capitol Police have requested an arrest warrant for Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), on unspecified charges. Abramoff-chaser U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Wainstein, on his way out to become Assistant Attorney General for National Security, is "reviewing the merits" of the case, his spokesperson says.
As I wrote the other day and have said before, I am not a big McKinney fan. I certainly would not call her crazy, but I do find her to be a bit more conspiracy oriented on issues that I think probably warrant more attention than sheer speculation.

But I find a lot of what is happening with McKinney since last week patently offensive. It's clear the extreme right wants to be sure everyone dismisses her out of hand, and they're not being very subtle in coming right to the edge and even stepping over a few boundries to make it obvious they feel she has even less credibility because she's a) black b) a woman c) doesn't love Bush. The hairdo comments, for example, make serious play on the fact that she's wearing her hair as an African American woman is more likely to do, and a Rita Cosby and such have no problem with making that sound silly and wrong.

I can see good reasons to, at times, seriously disagree with McKinney. But her hairdo, her skin color, and her gender don't enter into it.

I also don't take issue with Joe Scarborough because of his hairdo, his skin color, or his gender. I do question how a woman turned up dead in his office right after he "suddenly" announced he would not run again for office like there might be something hanging in Joe's closet. But that's just me. (Cough).

Speaking of Whores...

Rush Limbaugh, not a particularly attractive prostitute, has called an alleged rape victim one.

As documented at Media Matters:

During the March 31 broadcast of his national syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh referred to the alleged victim of a rape by members of the Duke University lacrosse team as a "ho[]." During an on-air discussion with a caller, Limbaugh said that former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton was "trying to figure out how he can get involved in the deal down there at Duke where the lacrosse team ... supposedly, you know, raped some, uh, hos."
Delightful, insightful soul, isn't he? Or perhaps he needs to take a few hundred more OxyContin for the pain he's producing in all of us.

Sanctimonious Rick Santorum's Love Affair with Lobbyists and Their Cash Lard Makes Him an Easy Target ... and Quite a Whore, To Boot

The Post-Gazette brings us this re: the 2006 PA Senatorial race:

The Senate wrapped up its lobbying bill this past week, but criticisms about K Street connections are not going away any time soon for Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, whose chief Democratic opponent plans to make the issue central to his campaign over the next eight months.

Mr. Santorum's likely challenger, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., called the Senate bill a missed opportunity given the public outrage over the activities of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy in a spectacular fraud and bribery scheme.

Mr. Casey said he could not understand why Mr. Santorum and other senators rejected the call for more scrutiny from a proposed independent Office of Public Integrity, which would have investigated ethics complaints against senators.

Mr. Santorum "started this process trying to be a lion and he's going out like a lamb," Mr. Casey said. "He's not aggressively insisting on the kind of ethics reform that I would in the Senate. ... It ought to be real and comprehensive, not some kind of piecemeal approach that doesn't get to the heart of the problem."
Any Pennsylvanians out there with a strong sense of whether Santorum will easily win re-election or get trounced this time out? I'd like to see him go, but since I'm not a PA voter... well...