How Can The U.S. Military Deny Raping Inmates and Civilians in War When They're Raping Their Own Recruits?

Posted by RJ Eskow at Crooks and Liars:

From the AP:
    More than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance exams.
The military’s desperately overstretched as a result of this reckless war. With typical Republican logic, they’ve resorted to using unscrupulous bottom-feeders as recruiters and letting them run wild. Military recruiters have always tended to be sleazy, but it’s gotten much worse. They lie, cheat, and manipulate young people - especially disadvantaged young people - to make up for the planning mistakes of their superiors.

Now we’re learning that they rape and abuse recruits, too. It’s not just Abu Ghraib and Gitmo anymore. Like the old country song says, "War Is Hell On The Home Front Too."

Backdoor Draft?

Posted at Hoffmania!

Tony Snowjob will be denying it out his ass to the off-premises press on Monday, but it's true.

    Although troops are allowed to leave active duty after a few years of service, they generally still have time left on their contract with the military that is known as "inactive ready reserve" status, or IRR. During that time, they have to let their service know their current address, but they don't train, draw a paycheck or associate in any other way with the military.

    But with active duty units already completing multiple tours in Iraq, the Pentagon has employed the rarely used tactic of calling people back from IRR status, a policy sometimes referred to as a "backdoor draft."

    According to the U.S. Army Reserve, approximately 14,000 soldiers on IRR status have been called to active duty since March 2003 and about 7,300 have been deployed to Iraq. The Marine Corps has mobilized 4,717 Marines who were classified as inactive ready reserve since Sept. 11, and 1,094 have been deployed to Iraq, according to the Marine Forces Reserve.

This Issue of Pharmacists Refusing to Fill Certain Prescriptions Should Not Be An Issue

Steve at The Carpetbagger Report is right: this should NEVER have been allowed to become an issue. If pharmacists want to refuse, then they're welcome to go into another line of work.

If there's a logical defense for this, I can't think of it.
    The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint on Tuesday against three pharmacists in upstate New York claiming that the pharmacists "refused to fill prescriptions for refill doses of emergency contraception," the Associated Press reports. What is particularly striking about this case — as opposed to the run-of-the-mill pharmacists who refuse to fill E.C. — is that the women needed refills.

    The pharmacists apparently had no religious or moral objections to E.C. the first time around; it was that second time that proved the women's behavior was "irresponsible" as Andrea Barcomb, a CVS supervisor, put it to the AP. (Actually, it seems to us that taking preventive measures as soon as possible to avoid unwanted pregnancy is the very definition of responsibility.) As Elisabeth Benjamin, director of NYCLU's Reproductive Rights program, told the AP, "these refusals seem to just be based solely on moralistic assumptions of women's sexuality."
I will never, ever understand how this issue became a legitimate controversy. Pharmacists, by virtue of their professional responsibilities, agree to fill prescriptions. Doctors prescribe a remedy, a patient seeks that remedy, a pharmacist provides the remedy. It's a pretty simple system.

If a pharmacist realizes that he or she may be called on to perform tasks with which they're uncomfortable, this person has a choice: do the job or find a different job in which these moral quandaries won't be an issue. In other words, if you don't like filling prescriptions, don't become a pharmacist.

This New York example is particularly egregious because the pharmacists were willing to provide emergency contraception once — everyone, apparently, is entitled to a single mistake — but they took it upon themselves to say twice is too many. Women can prevent one pregnancy, but after that, they're out of luck. These pharmacists created their own one-strike-and-you're-out policy, and they expect it to be a legitimate policy stance.

You Must See This; You Really Must

DailyRead at Trailing Edge Blog provides us with x-ray evidence of the problem(s) with the Bush-Cheney imperial rule.

More on Israel and Lebanon

Let me point out some other important information Juan Cole shares with us:

A majority of Americans wanted the US to be neutral in the Israeli-Lebanon War. Only a third wanted to support Israel to the hilt. But the US Congress and executive acted as part of that third and ignored the majority.

A majority of Israelis in one poll wanted Defense Minister Amir Peretz to resign as a result of the inconclusive war on Lebanon. Some 41 percent wanted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gone. I saw on cable television that Olmert's approval rating is only 40 percent now, and Peretz stands at 28 percent. The danger is that hardliner Bibi Netanyahu of the Likud Party (who recently openly celebrated the anniversary of the terrorist attack by Zionists in the 40s on civilians in the King David Hotel) has risen in popularity as a result of the debacle. The war could leave us with a strengthened Likud and a politically strengthened Hizbullah-Syria-Iran bloc, a recipe for further disaster.Anyway, that's how you tell who won. ...

Hizbullah has taken the lead in providing aid relief to victims of the Israeli war on Lebanon. This is an important step in the rivalry between Hizbullah and the central government for the allegiance of the average person.

Russia is also helping.

The BBC provides pictures of Lebanese returning to the rubble of their homes in the south, as a result of massive Israeli bombing of the civilian infrastructure. The stench of dead family members, women and children often greets the returnees as they sift through the ruins of their homes.

Returning families and children face severe danger from unexploded ordnance, including cluster bombs. It is estimated that 10 percent of the tens of thousands of bombs dropped on Lebanon by Israel did not explode immediately.

Is Israel Deliberately Violating the Ceasefire in Lebanon?

From Juan Cole's Informed Comment:

Lebanon says that the Israelis made a commando raid into the Biqa' valley, attacking a village near Baalbak. The Lebanese maintain that they foiled the raid.
MSNBC was discussing this today as well.

Unfortunately, one of the chief reasons Israel becomes such a target for attacks is that they - again and again - treat all neighboring countries like they own them so they move in to do whatever they want, assured that the U.S. will always prevent the U.N. from taking action against them.


What Really Happened With Those Kidnapped Israeli Soldiers That Started the War in Lebanon?

From Kirby Mountain:

What Really Happened has gathered several news reports lest the world forget that Hezbollah did not "invade" Israel to "kidnap" two soldiers. The soldiers were in fact in Lebanon, obviously aiming to provoke the the very disastrous war that they then blamed on Hezbollah.

In summary:Israel sent troops across the border into Lebanon. They then claimed the captured invaders were "kidnap victims" and launched their attacks.

You Know Who Hates Our Freedom Even More Than "Islamic Fascists"?

Said Bush last week:

"This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy
those of us who love freedom."

Yet there are people who hate Americans' freedoms far more than Islamic fascists, Iraqi insurgents, North Korean megalomaniacs, and Iranian leaders.

Can you guess who hates our freedom the most?

If you answered, "The Bushies!" give yourself a pat on the back AND a big (bubblegum) cigar!

After all, it isn't Osama bin Laden or Kim Jong Il or President of Iran Ahmadinejad or Hezbollah's Nasrallah but George Bush, Dick Cheney, Michael Chertoff, Donald Rumsfeld, Stephen Hadley, Condi Rice and all the rest of the Bushies who constantly try to steal:
  • our freedom of speech
  • our freedom to practice (or not) the religion of our choice
  • our freedom from unreasonable search and seizures
  • our freedom of choice whether to be pregnant or not
  • our freedom to go where we want without government monitoring
  • our freedom to watch and listen to those programs we choose
  • our freedom to peruse the net without monitoring
  • our freedom to vote for the candidates we choose

Islamic Fascists? Real or Does Bush Just Make This Stuff Up?

David Ignatius balks at the term about as much as I do, but for different reasons.

Funny How That Works: Abstinence-Only Education Led To a Whole Lot of Teen Pregnancies


An Ohio school board voted to allow discussion of contraception in sex education classes upon learning that 13% of one high school’s female students were pregnant.

Earlier: Congress declines to fund abstinence only-programs

Injecting a Bit of Reality into the Middle East Warring

One thing you are not apt to get out of the U.S. media - the mainstream media, that is - is some reality checks about Israel and Lebanon.

While we've heard non-stop about how Hezbollah would frequently violate the U.N. resolution-certified requirements not to cross the border, U.N. records show that for every time Hezbollah violated Israel's border, Israeli troops had violated Lebanon's border between 10 and 20 times.

Also, while we keep hearing about either a) the massive damage to Israel or b) the massive damage and death to both Israel and Lebanon, understand that the most conservative death toll estimates show that 20 Lebanese civilians died for every one Israeli civilian. And in terms of infrastructure destruction, the two can't be compared at all.

Facts courtesy of Counterspin, the radio news program produced by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting).

Are Soccer Moms Ready To Ban The Bushies From Their Family MiniVans?

Might be! Read here.

At the same time, British Muslims fear a severe backlash against them because of all the talk of the Brit plane liquid bomb plan.

And speaking of traitors, terrorists, and dictators, Chile's former "dictator" Pinochet has been stripped of immunity in the fraud case against him.

"Spinning Old Threats Into New Fears"? You Bet! It's What Bush, Cheney, and The GOP Do Best

[Ed. note: FYI: The day before the liquid bomb airplane plot was pushed out to the media against Britain's objections as "premature", the Bushies were arguing that transportation security should NOT bother to check for liquid bombs. Sort of like how John Ashcroft on September 10th, 2001, was on Capitol Hill arguing the need to cut anti-terror funding. Geniuses, these Bushies are!]

Former LA Times OpEdist Robert Scheer brings us this at TruthDig (snippet here but visit the link for the entire essay):

Investigators have known for a decade about terrorist plots to bring down passenger jets with liquid explosives. So why, all of a sudden, did Bush ban most liquids on flights?

Government-induced hysteria thrives on public ignorance, which is why President Bush is so confident of turning the British bomb plot to his partisan purposes. Otherwise, how could he dare claim that his policies have made the nation safer?

Consider, first off, that the attack envisioned — smuggling liquid-explosive ingredients onto 10 passenger planes — was outlined in chapter five of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission Report as a plot first exposed a decade ago. The originator of that planned hijacking of 12 U.S.-bound planes, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was also the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. According to U.S. prosecutors, his nephew, convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef, even managed to explode such a liquid-based bomb on a Manila-Tokyo flight, killing one passenger, as part of a plot code-named “Bojinka.”

Because checking or banning fluids was not a focus of this administration’s post-Sept. 11 airport security measures, this “coincidence” would suggest either enormous negligence on the part of those charged with protecting us or a ludicrous overreaction this past week. Knowing as we did of Mohammed’s earlier plan, why wasn’t the Department of Homeland Security requiring fliers to dump their bottles of hairspray and mother’s milk before?

Unlike Yousef, who was arrested in Pakistan in 1995, Mohammed remained at large until two years after Sept. 11 to continue pushing the Bojinka concept to any terrorist bankroller who would listen. It has been known for at least two years since his capture that he spoke in detail about the scheme with Osama bin Laden. (The two had met much earlier during their days as what President Ronald Reagan called “freedom fighters” in the crusade against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.)

Maybe We Didn't Catch Osama Bin Laden, But Bush Managed to Kill 10 Afghan Border Patrol Policeman... Guys On Our Side

Here's the story and it's a beaut, complete with Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai appropriately blaming us for the airstrike who killed the 10 men.

Despite Bush's Happy Horseshit About Phenomenal Success of His "Faith-Based" Taxpayer Funded Initiative, Report Card Gives an F-Minus

Bush did his outright best to force down America's throat a "faith-based" initiative (complete with the ability to discriminate against who gets hired and who gets helped while collecting taxpayer dollars in a nation with rules against the same). But as Bill Berkowitz writes on Working for Change, the General Accounting Office (GAO) gives these programs an F-Minus (a good grade for Bush but pretty poor for anything else in reality).

Here's a bit:

"I am confident that the faith community is achieving unbelievable successes in -- throughout our country." -- President George W. Bush, second White House National Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, March 2006

"... while more elaborate scientific studies are underway, the White House has relied on largely anecdotal evidence to support the view that faith-based approaches produce better long-term results." -- Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy, August 2004
For years, President Bush has being going around the country touting his faith-based initiative, claiming that it has been achieving remarkable results delivering social services to the needy. Few reporters bothered to ask what the president he meant by "results."

Well, the results are in on the president's Faith-Based Initiative and it doesn't look good for Team Bush. A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has affirmed what many critics of President Bush faith-based initiative have long asserted: too many religious groups that have received government grants have been mixing religious activities with their social work; and the government has not yet established a concrete process to monitor grant recipients to see if they are being effective.

The GAO study entitled "Faith-Based and Community Initiative: Improvements in Monitoring Grantees and Measuring Performance Could Enhance Accountability" found that "While officials in all 26 FBOs [faith-based organizations receiving federal grants] that we visited said that they understood that federal funds cannot be used for inherently religious activities, a few FBOs described activities that appeared to violate this safeguard. Four of the 13 FBOs that provided voluntary religious activities did not separate in time or location some religious activities from federally funded program services."

The report also noted that "[L]ittle information is available to assess progress toward another long-term goal of improving participant outcomes because outcome-based evaluations for many pilot programs have not begun."

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., who along with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., requested the report, said "The Bush administration has failed to develop standards to verify that faith-based organizations aren't using federal funds to pay for inherently religious activity or to provide services on the basis of religion."

Chris Hedges: "Israel's Barrier to Peace"

Chris Hedges, former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times as well as the author of "War Is The Force That Gives Us Meaning" offers a thoughtful essay at TruthDig on what keeps Israel from the peace the people there seem to want while the leaders all but flat out refuse to allow.

Here's a snip by you probably want to read its entirety:

The rage and extremism of the Islamic militants in Lebanon and the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza appear incomprehensible to the outside world. The wanton murder, the raw anti-Semitism, the callous disregard for human life, including the lives of children and other innocents, permit those on the outside to thrust these militant fighters in another moral universe, to certify them as incomprehensible.

But this branding of these militants as something less than human, as something that reasonable people cannot hope to understand, is possible only because we have ignored and disregarded the decades of repression, the crushing weight of occupation, the abject humiliation and violence, unleashed on Lebanese and Palestinians by Israel because of our silence and indifference. It is the Israeli penchant for violence and occupation that slowly created and formed these frightening groups.

The failure by the outside world to react to the years of brutal repression, the refusal by the United States to intercede on behalf of the occupied Lebanese and Palestinians, gradually formed and galvanized the radicals who now occupy the stage with Israel, answering death for death, atrocity for atrocity.

Those inside these zones of occupation pleaded over the years for help. We refused to listen. And once they burst through these barriers, enraged, bloodied, bent on revenge, we recoiled in horror, unable to see our complicity. We asked them to be quiet, to be reasonable, to calm down, and when they did not, their blood heated by years of abuse and neglect, we condemned them to their fate.

The barrier built by Israel in the West Bank is one of the most tangible and important symbols of this long humiliation, this strangulation of the Palestinians by Israel. To understand the role of this barrier is to begin to understand the rage it has now unleashed. Understanding is not excusing, but until we grasp that these militants do not come from another moral universe, until we face our own complicity in their creation and the awful violence now underway in Lebanon and the occupied territories, we cannot begin to understand the gross injustices that fuel these militant movements. It was, after all, the $10 billion in loan guarantees by the United States that made this barrier possible.
Reminds me of a Pink Floyd song about "another brick in the wall."

Their Wish Is Our Command

Two fine Vermont bloggers - Morgan W. Brown and NTodd - point our attention toward a Pew Research blogger poll. Actually, the normally quiet, polite, and mentally agile NTodd put his request in a rather uh... um... strident form entitled "Got Blog?":

Take the Pew blogger survey. NOW, MOTHERFUCKER.
Um... my goodness! I haven't heard such language since the last time Dudlee tried to install a piece of hardware or MissM realized that Dubya won re-election to his National Nap in 2004. Please forgive me while I go fan myself and try to calm down my "palpitations"!

Cheney And The "Biggest Lie"?

From Gottlieb at My Left Wing (although with the Bush-Cheney ambiguously gray duo, it would be hard to choose from which of their billions of lies are the biggest because they keep outdoing themselves - oy!):

Explain something to me. Cheney, Hatch and the rest of the Republican lemmings are saying Democratic victory is a threat to security and helps terrorists.

If that’s true, then why do ‘terrorists’ support Bush and the Republicans?

It’s no secret anymore that when Osama came out with his 2004 pre-election tape, he was trying to help George Bush get re-elected. That’s what the CIA concluded.

So then, if a Democratic victory would make it easier for the dastardly terrorists to strike the homeland faster, better and cheaper, but Republicans strengthen our national security and make it harder for them to strike, then wouldn’t “terrorists” support the Democrats?

You bet they would. But they don’t. So, when Republicans like Cheney and Hatch and the rest of the yahoos, say the “terrorists” support Ned Lamont and want democrats to win; isn’t that a big fat lie?

You bet your sweet ass it is. The Biggest.

More on NSA Wiretapping: Bush Doctrine Under Surveillance

Glenn Greenwald gives you the lowdown in this Salon piece on NSA wiretapping and other disastrous, freedom hating Bush policies. If you happen to catch Democracy Now! today, you'll also hear from Glenn who was on the show discussing this and more.

You can also catch Glenn's smart analysis at anytime on his blog, Unclaimed Territory, here, such as this:

For the last four years, the Bush administration has deliberately violated multiple laws because it has adopted radical theories which vest law-breaking powers in the President. It also happens to be well on its way to obtaining the power to criminally prosecute journalists for articles they publish about the administration's conduct. And while all of that has been happening, the Washington Post Editorial Board has said virtually nothing about any of it, sitting idly by while the President vests himself with what George Will calls "monarchical" powers that (at least) rival terrorism as a threat to our country, and while Attorney General Alberto Gonzales casually speculates about putting Jim Risen and New York Times editors (and perhaps even the Post's own Dana Priest) into a federal prison, just as his most prominent supporters have been urging.

But at long last, the Post Editorial Board has finally found something to be outraged about -- the fact that the judicial opinion issued by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor yesterday isn't scholarly and "complex" enough for the intellectual tastes of Fred Hiatt.

What really matters, says the Post in its unbelievably petty editorial, is not the profound constitutional crisis we face by virtue of a President who believes he has the power to act outside of the law and has been exercising that power aggressively and enthusiastically in numerous ways over five years. No, that is merely a fascinating intellectual puzzle, something for super-smart experts to resolve with great civility and high-minded, complex discussions as they ponder what the Post calls the "complicated, difficult issues" raised by the administration's lawlessness.

To the Post, what really matters here is how impressed law professors are with the complexity and nuance in Judge Taylor's written decision. Condescendingly scoffing at the judicial quality of her opinion is of infinitely greater importance than objecting to the growing extremism and lawlessness to which our country has been subjected.

Judges Need to Rule for the Law and Not for the Bushies' Doublespeak Rhetoric

The Bush Administration has made a serious business of appointing only judges who will kowtow to their rhetoric of fear, intolerance, and ultra rightwing ideology - any judge who tries to rule based on American law and with those little documents the Bushies treat like toilet paper such as the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights gets villified, with far right politicians all but encouraging their crazed constituents to do harm against these judges.

Yet we've recently had some wonderful examples of what happens when a brave jurist does what he or she is supposed to do: base decisions on law and precedent rather than on Bushie rhetoric, such as the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hamdan vs. U.S. case that says the military tribunals and such are not legal and with Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the U.S. District Court in Michigan who ruled yesterday that the NSA wiretapping the Bushies have conducted is unconstitutional and must be stopped. These are great moments for America and it is an abysmal shame that such moments have become so rare under the Bush empire.

Here's The Times on the NSA wiretap decision:

Ever since President Bush was forced to admit that he was spying on Americans’ telephone calls and e-mail without warrants, his lawyers have fought to keep challenges to the program out of the courts. Yesterday, that plan failed. A federal judge in Detroit declared the eavesdropping program to be illegal and unconstitutional. She also offered a scathing condemnation of what lies behind the wiretapping — Mr. Bush’s attempt to expand his powers to the point that he can place himself beyond the reach of Congress, judges or the Constitution.

“There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,” wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit. Her decision was based on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

She said Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when he ordered the National Security Agency to spy without a warrant on international phone calls and e-mail by Americans and foreign residents of the United States. She noted that the surveillance law was passed to prohibit just this sort of presidential abuse of power and provided ample flexibility for gathering vital intelligence. She also said that the program violated the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the rights of free speech and association granted by the First Amendment.

The ruling eviscerated the absurd notion on which the administration’s arguments have been based: that Congress authorized Mr. Bush to do whatever he thinks is necessary when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Bushies continue to lose ground in the many terror cases they bring before courts because they expect judges to rule based on Bush imperialism rather than evidence or law. This is from the Detroit Free Press:
Terror charges against two groups of Arab Americans arrested with hundreds of prepaid cell phones teetered in Michigan and collapsed in Ohio on Monday as authorities said they lacked evidence that the men intended to use the phones for evil.

Ohio authorities dropped charges against two Dearborn men arrested last week with hundreds of the disposable phones.

Meanwhile, officials in Tuscola County, in Michigan's Thumb, kept three Texans locked up Monday evening even after Michigan State Police and FBI officials said they were apparently wide-eyed tourists rather than would-be terrorists when they photographed the Mackinac Bridge.

The FBI -- which questioned the Texans, who are of Palestinian heritage, for several hours over the weekend after their arrest -- said Monday that "there is no imminent threat" to the iconic bridge linking Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas.

While local authorities in Michigan and Ohio feared the cell phones could be used in terrorism attacks -- they've been used to detonate bombs in Europe, the Middle East and Asia -- the men's relatives and friends said the men are innocent entrepreneurs buying cheap phones for marked-up resales. They were targeted, supporters said, because of their Arab heritage.

"I applaud the FBI and state in standing up for justice and goodwill," said Nabih Ayad, a Dearborn attorney who represents the three men.

But he expressed concern that the men were targeted because of their ethnicity.
Except for Zacharias Massoui who largely convicted himself, the U.S. has lost countless terrorism cases despite the fact that they have the deck - and the American public - stacked in their favor. Yet they have yet to bring the majority of such cases into a court because they know they do not have the evidence to charge them at the same time claiming they can hold these people forever without charging them which is patently WRONG.

We should be asking ourselves - and our elected officials - very hard questions about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what we should be doing differently. The longer this Bush mess and imperialism goes on, the worse it is for the U.S. as a whole and for the entire free world who now sees America as corrupt, spineless, and willing to hurt anyone at anytime for seemingly no good reason whatsoever. I don't think we want that. Do you>

Despite Enormous Toll Taken on Lebanon, Hezbollah Remains a Powerful Force in Middle East

This report in WaPo, along with dozens upon dozens of others in various publications, print and Web, all basically agree that Hezbollah (Hizbollah to some) remains at least as powerful a force in the Middle East as it was before Israel decided to try to take them out.

Yet what is more properly true is that Hezbollah has been strengthened rather than weakened by the 34 days of active combat and occupation by Israel in Lebanon. This bis ecause many Lebanese civilians who before would have nothing to do with the organization found that Hezbollah seemed to be the only entity supplying them with much needed food, medicine, fuel, and with their safety as the only body capable of trying to fight back Israel's military troops.

In this respect, Israel lost big time. But it was not just Israel. America lost as well because Bush seemed to want to use Israel as the first line of attack against Iran and/or Syria. We'll pay a huge price - and not just monetarily - for what was done to Lebanon, not the least of which is a heightened perception of the U.S. and Israel trying to run the world, governments eager to attack Muslims in particular (although Lebanon has for some time been a largely Christian country), and governments unwilling to listen to what Arab leaders as well as the rest of the world had to say about the action.

Diplomats and Generals Tell Bush to Open Talks With Rather Than Drop Bombs On Iran

I applaud this group for what it's doing. I have no doubt that Bush will not listen, but we should be talking with both Iran and Syria. We cannot afford - not militarily, economically, ethically, morally, or timewise - another war without end.

Throwing Good Money After Bad: Florida, The Bush Brothers, and Emergency Aid for Hurricanes

Florida has always gotten far more than its share of federal emergency dollars, but never has this been more true since we had the Bush Mutt-and-Jeff duo of Jeb as governor of Florida and Bush as emperor of the "free" world. The Bushies use federal money we pay as taxpayers to "buy" votes in Florida in the form of replacing some rich person's house every few years from hurricane damage. But here we have a report that says despite the billions that flow into Florida in aid, the Bush Florida debacle is NOT prepared for a major hurricane.

Where's the accountability? Well, we know it's NEVER with the brothers Bush, that's for sure.

Remarkably Bad, Even For a Government That Loves, Loves, LOVES to Waste Taxpayer Money

The Washington Post details how $170 million system the FBI used to upgrade their paper-based filing system turned into a computerized mess that cannot be used.

Let me give you some additional background. Far more than this $170 million was wasted. It may not be a stretch to say the waste just within the Department of Justice, which handles both the FBI and CIA among other agencies, runs well into billions.

For years, the FBI and other government agencies would DEMAND huge money to upgrade to worthwhile computers. Almost every year, they got the money. But instead of spending it on the authorized PC upgrades, people like Louis Freeh and others would just spend it on other crap they knew could and would not be authorized (stuff like highly questionable travel, paying informants who had no credibility, etc.). This happened for the better part of two decades that I know about so who knows how much longer it went on.

USA Today Has Strong Words for Bush "Not a Monarch" on the NSA Wiretapping Issue Judge Ruled Unconstitutional

I like what USA Today said in its editorial about the NSA wiretapping a great federal judge yesterday ruled unconstitutional:

For the past five years, the Bush administration has operated as if the horrific events of 9/11 not only changed fundamental aspects of national security and public safety, but also changed the very nature of government.

OPPOSING VIEW: NSA program is vital tool [Ed. note: See how USA Today had to insert this at the very beginning? Like no one is allowed to criticize anything the Bushies do without weighing it with the Bushie doublespeak? Grrr...]

President Bush has unilaterally declared what parts of new laws he wishes to enforce. He has created military tribunals unauthorized by Congress. And, perhaps most ominously, he has authorized eavesdropping on phone calls to and from the USA without court orders.

Bush has done these things by simply asserting that the powers of the presidency enumerated in Article II of the Constitution — particularly the clause making him the "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" — are much more sweeping than previously imagined. In short, he has acted like a king.

Fortunately, the courts have begun to rein in his royal ambitions. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the military tribunals. And on Thursday, federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor struck down the warrantless surveillance program, finding it to be a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments and the principle of separation of powers. "There are no hereditary Kings in America," she wrote.

The ruling by Taylor, who was appointed by President Carter, is far from the final word. The wiretapping program will continue while the administration appeals. It is not hard to see other courts ruling differently by saying that the plaintiffs, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, should not have been given standing to bring the case because they could not show they were harmed by the eavesdropping.

But the ruling does undermine Bush's main argument — that the program is constitutional because the administration says it is constitutional. Taylor gives little credence to this argument, as one might expect from a representative of the judicial branch, the place where questions of constitutionality are properly resolved.

Since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was adopted in 1978, presidents have had an effective and constitutional way to speedy court approval for surveillance. FISA even allows for retroactive approval in urgent investigations.

If this law is overly restrictive or somehow unequal to the task of combating today's global terror threat, the president can and should go to Congress to make the case for new legislation. Given the mood of the country and the continuing threat exemplified by the alleged airline bombing plot in Britain last week, Congress would surely make addressing the problem a priority.

By ignoring the law, and making specious arguments that powers contained in Article II make the president virtually unaccountable to either the courts or Congress, the president shows contempt for the other branches and exposes his determination to concentrate power within his own — with no particular gain for the war on terrorism.

Much has changed since terrorists rammed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But one thing that has not is that America is a constitutional democracy with checks and balances. A ruling such as Thursday's is a useful and forceful affirmation of that.
Meanwhile, of course, Bush defended his unconstitutional activities.

What made me even more pissed was how Alberto Gonzalez, the Bush rubber stamper/ass kisser of a U.S. Attorney General, who raced to a microphone as the ruling was announced to say he had information locked in his safe that IF people knew it, they would call this judge wrong.

The Bushies ALWAYS use that ploy. And far too often, Americans go along with this trick you'd expect from a three-year-old. Let's STOP going along with this nonsense. Shall we?

Is Bush the AntiChrist?

OK, yeah, I know that Dubya can't even spell antichrist (must less pronounce it BUT... one of the visitors posted a URL of a petition to sign to get a Papal declaration of our befuddled president, Mr. Bush, as the antiChrist.


Achenblog Suggests Sen. George Allen Needs to Get Out to Real World America Occasionally

Achenblog is kinder to George "Bad hair plugs" Allen than I am:

Perhaps George Allen needs to spend more time in America and less in the United States Senate. Allen sees a person of color in an otherwise all-white crowd, singles him out and calls him "macaca." Any attempt to probe Allen's brain in search of the etymology of this term would surely be a perilous journey. He may have overheard it at a kegger back in college. Maybe he invented the word on the spot. It doesn't have the ring of a compliment, whatever it means.

"I don't know what it means," Allen told our reporter. As a senator, he has a Constitutional right to say things that not only don't make sense to listeners, but that even he can't decipher. This is called senatorial privilege.

More revealing is his remark, "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Perhaps the senator is of the belief that anyone who looks Asian or exotic just stepped off a boat. S.R. Sidarth, however, was born in Fairfax County. He is an American.

America is increasingly a nation of many hues. "Multiculturalism" isn't a liberal buzzword, it's a demographic fact. On the very same front page as the story about Allen, we see an article stating that the Washington metro area now has more than one million immigrants. To judge by the accompanying graphic, most of them live in Allen's state.

Welcome to America, Senator Allen. Welcome to the real world of Virginia.
I'd like to believe Allen's presidential plans are just so much micaca as well. We don't need another imbecile in the White House considering the one we have now. ::groan::

Child Star: "I See Stoned People!"

"Sixth Sense" child star Hallie Joe Osment gets charged with pot possession and DUI and faces up to six months in jail.

But maybe he'll be lucky like "Mr. Racial Tolerance" Mel Gibson who - like all good little right-wing GOPers - issued a non-apology apology, blamed everyone else, and then got handed probation despite his long history of driving while drunk. This way, Mad Max Mel will get another chance to kill somebody on California roads!

Philadelphia Journal Gets It Right: The Lopsidedness of the War of on Terror

From today's Philadelphia Inquirer Op/Ed page but let me add that only the headline of this piece is correct; the war is VERY lopsided. The rest of the argument by former Bushie nominee Linda Chavez, however, amounts to typical GOP talking points, racist claptrap.

And Yet More Of These Tear-Jerking 9-11 911 Emergency Tapes

Even though I understand why many of the 911 dispatchers "lied" and said the people calling would be rescued, it still doesn't make it any easier to hear them or read the transcripts.

Department of Homeland (In)Security: U.S. Beefing Up Airplane Security

Yeah, right, sure. But as you read this, remember what Tom Ridge, the original DH(I)S czar, admitted just this week: we have NEVER caught ANYONE planning a terror attack on a plane through ANY of the screening measures in use at U.S. airports. So all of this is happy horseshit.

Amid concerns about possible copycat terrorists, U.S. airlines will remain on high alert following the alleged plot to bomb trans-Atlantic flights from London, the nation's homeland security chief said.

It's not clear when the threat level for airlines might be lowered from orange, signaling a "high" threat, the second-highest level on the five-step scale. Airlines also face stiffer security regulations, including turning over passenger names to be checked against the government's "no-fly" terror watch list before international flights take off for U.S. cities.

"My emphatic message to everybody has been: This is not the time to let your guard down,"
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. [Ed. note: What Chertoff means here is that you should not down your guard UNTIL the day after November's mid-term elections, after Diebold voting equipment has successfully been programmed to hand wins to the GOP candidates.]

"This is the time to increase your guard for everything because we don't want someone who wants to seize the moment to be able to do something," Chertoff said. [Ed. note: again, what Chertoff means here is that we don't want just anyone to "seize" the moment; instead, we just want Cheney and Bush to seize your fear and hold it hostage.]

Authorities put U.S.-bound flights from Britain on red alert for four days after last week's plot was foiled — the first time the government's highest threat warning level has been issued. That "severe" threat level for those flights was lowered Sunday to orange to match security measures taken for all other international and domestic flights. [Ed. note: Unsaid here is the fact that while they're checking for sweaty feet, all the cargo you sit on during your flight goes completely unchecked. Nice, eh?]

Threat levels against other transportation sectors — and the rest of the country in general — are at yellow, which signifies an "elevated" risk of attack.
The only "winners" here are the Bush friends becoming big billionaires off no-bid, highly lucrative contracts to provide "security" in screening airline passengers that has never stopped a single attack.

Bush Signs Pension Bill

This "press release" from Associated Press manages somehow miraculously to make it sound like George W. Bush, a man who has never worked a day in his privileged little life, a man who became rich not from all the businesses he bankrupted but by friends of his Poppy's who bailed him out, actually cares about pension holders.

But remember who was at the helm and who appointed the federal judges who let corporations walk away from billions and billions of dollars worth of promised pension benefits.

Color Me With Disbelief: Broder On The GOP's Tough Road

I respect David S. Broder, I do. And yes, I would even agree that the Republicans and the GOP as a whole are doing a very bad job of anything but lying and pissing people off.

But we've seen them steal elections on two if not three occasions and we've seen them play Fear Factor every single election after 2001. I have little doubt they will pull out all the stops to win in November's mid-term elections even if the votes go to their opponents.

Here's a news wire piece that basically makes my point about the GOP dirty tricks from the chickenhawk party we can expect:

Republicans will play defense in this fall's state legislative races to avoid a "tsunami" that could alter the political landscape in statehouses around the country, the head of the GOP's legislative campaign committee said Wednesday.

Democrats, who currently hold a 21-seat advantage among the country's 7,382 state legislative seats, are hoping the national mood and historical trends contribute to legislative gains.

"Some years you play offense, and some years you play defense," said Alex Johnson, executive director of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee. "And this is a year when we play a bit of defense and hope to steal a few."
Steal? You betcha!

Since Bush Invaded Afghanistan, The Bumper Crop of Opium Poppies Gets Bigger and Better Every Harvest

Story here; opium production is up 40% over 2005 which was like 10 times as great as it was the year before that which was far better than 2003 and 2004 and... you get the idea, I think.

For a man like Bush who loves to tie the war on drugs to the war on terrorism, the Bushies have certainly done there part to flood the market with dirt-cheap heroin and potent Afghani hash.

Tucker Carlson: To Question Bush and Government's Complicity on Attacks of 9-11 is "Blasphemous"

Granted, Tucker Carlson isn't exactly the brightest bulb in the pack, but this is a new low even for him on the show MSNBC practically has to pay to get six people to watch.

The JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case Makes Less Sense With Each Passing Hour

Obviously, I don't want to spend a lot of time on this story, but the more we learn about the confessed killer (and he deserves the benefit of doubt), the less sense this makes... and that's even without ditzy Patsy Ramsey involved this time.

John Mark Karr (not Carr) is on his way back to the U.S. but he is not yet charged in the Ramsey murder despite the fact he has confessed. But here's what doesn't make sense:

  • Karr's ex-wife says he was with her and their kids in Alabama during Christmas 1996 when JonBenet died
  • the man does not appear to be heterosexual
  • he's confessed to this murder before and it was deemed he did not have intimate knowledge of the case
  • he says he kidnapped her but there is no indication the child ever left the house
  • Patsy was the only person checked in this case whose handwriting bore similarities to the handwriting of the "ransom" note (however, handwriting analysis is not the science some document experts purport it to be)
  • the person who "brought him" to police attention has a book about to come out so the timing of Karr's confession is interesting; this is the same guy who did a "fluff" documentary on the Ramseys
  • he claims her death was an accident but the girl was bludgeoned on the head and then suffocated
  • if you ever saw a diagram of that house, there is little chance this crime was committed by anyone who didn't know the house; the place was really crazily laid out
  • he says he loved JonBenet dearly and she loved him; but where's the proof he even knew her?
And this is just barely scratching the surface of the inconsistencies. I just happen to have some background in forensics and crime scene analysis.

With America Less and Less Safe, Bush and Rove Will Still Try to Win on The Fear Factor in November

From the Christian Science Monitor: Bush wants to scare you to death and then re-elect the same greedy simpletons who are responsible for your lack of safety.

Read It and Weep: The Cost of Living Jumps Higher

... and it's not like you're making more money these days, is it?

Have You Visited...

Last Chance Democracy Cafe?

Also, Buzzflash seeks benefactors.

I Hope They Have More Evidence Against Alleged Killer of JonBenet Ramsey Than John Mark Karr's Confession

I kid you not: although it's hard to imagine how anyone can possibly confess to a crime they did not commit, the truth is that it happens every day and in every way both in this country and throughout the world. I learned this will a freshman in high school when a young man at my high school (Peter Reilly, the subject of a few books and at least one movie) was charged with the brutal murder of his mother based on a confession elicited by police.

From what little I've seen and read, it seems apparent that John Mark Karr, the accused murderer of JonBenet Ramsey, the toddler beauty queen, has more than a few screws loose.

But a confession is not worth much because it can be elicited from innocent people. There is a lot more that makes me question whether he is IT. If he is, however, I don't know how anyone can give Patsy Ramsey the last 10 years of her life back in which so many assumed she or her husband murdered their little girl. Patsy died at the end of June of the ovarian cancer that struck right after JonBenet was born.

Jeralyn Merritt, a Colorado-based defense attorney and blogmistress of TalkLeft, is probably going to be one of your better sources of information on this case. If you've watched any of the talking head coverage of this case, either currently or back 10 years ago, you've seen Jeralyn in action. I think very highly of Jeralyn.

With Combat-Based Brain Injuries, the Bushies Want to Cut Funding For Soldiers Who Suffer From It

Lord love a duck (it's my high school saying to avoid the use of the F* (that's fuck, to normal people - would you believe I never said the word fuck until I was out of college? Now I'm making up for time lost, I suppose) word. Posted at My Left Wing:

There are times when less words, say more. Perhaps, the proper axiom is “Nobody does, or says it better,” than Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. I know not which statement is most fitting. However, I trust there is little I can say to introduce this request. Please stop Congress; they plan to reduce the funding for veterans brain injury treatment.

Rarely can we act [express love] and react [articulate fear and pain] simultaneously. This is a unique opportunity. We, the people, have the power to do each with a single click.
Never has an administration tried to benefit MORE from the military while simultaneously knifing these same young men and woman in the back and anus.

Traumatic brain injury is a most terrible thing and destroys many lives (and not just of those who suffer it but also those who live with and care for the sufferers). Mr. Bush and Congress just *might* realize that if they only had brains!

A Message from Ramsey Clark at ImpeachBush

I don't happen to agree with at least 35% of this, but let me pass along this message from former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark at ImpeachBush:

Once again President Bush has deceived the American people to open the way for a war of aggression, this time against Lebanon. Had it been successful, regime change in Syria and Iran were next on his agenda. It is now clear that the assault on Lebanon was agreed on and planned by the U.S. and Israel long before Hezbollah, reacting to Israel’s brutal assault against Palestine, captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12 of this year which was claimed to justify bombing all of Lebanon. After his tragically criminal war in Iraq and the emerging failure of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, President Bush apparently believes he can fool most of the people all of the time.

While Europe and the Arab world overwhelmingly called for an immediate cease fire, President Bush and his administration declared Israel "has the right to defend itself," supported the invasion and rejected a cease fire. The world watched in anguish as Israeli aircraft destroyed villages, towns and civilian facilities throughout Lebanon. Hezbollah fighters stopped a massive Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon and rained thousands of missiles into northern Israel.

Every belligerent utterance of George W. Bush, our “War President,” and his war seeking assistants, referenced Hezbollah, Syria and Iran in the same breath. All received their special insults, as did the Muslim world, called “Islamic Fascists” by the President of the United States.
After it became clear that Israel had failed to achieve any of its proclaimed military objectives and U.S. officials had acknowledged that Israel was losing the war, the U.S. reversed its position and contributed to a negotiated cease fire to protect Israel. President Bush praised Israel as the Victor and claimed credit for the cease fire. The Lebanese people, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and the world that watched the month of mayhem knew better. Israel did not even obtain the release of its two captured soldiers. Israel is withdrawing from Lebanon. People are returning to their villages. Hezbollah is leading the rebuilding of Lebanon, its prestige at an all time high in Lebanon, the Muslim world and beyond.

Israel is in turmoil. Former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decried the “mismanagement of the War” in the Knesset, and vowed that Israel will learn from its mistakes.
The fear and hatred generated by this brutal war of aggression makes peace more remote.

Probably 1200 Lebanese were killed, 75 percent civilian, and 140 Israelis, 80 percent military, with thousands injured, and an estimated $10 billion in property damage in Lebanon, 99 percent civilian.

How long can the American people accept a President who places himself above the law, who repeatedly wages wars of aggression, authorizes excessive force, the targeting of civilians, indiscriminate destruction, collective punishment, torture, disappearance, unlimited, illegal detention and dismisses them all with lies? How long will our nation endure this war by and against terrorism that he is creating?

Lebanon had hurt no one. It will be decades before it recovers if let alone. Like Palestine and Iraq it is a land of diverse and wonderful peoples of ancient and modern cultures. Beirut is one of the most glorious cities of the Mediterranean with snow capped mountains an hour's drive away. There are still stands of virgin cedars from which Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem was built in peaceful commerce. Two thousand six hundred years ago, the prophet Ezekiel wrote of Tyre as a place “of perfect beauty... Thy borders are in the midst of the sea... Thy builders have perfected thy beauty...” truth that millions of people have observed over the millenniums. Today Tyre lays in ruin once again from Israeli assault as the world has witnessed by television.

Can we doubt that President Bush will attack yet another country, if We, the People, fail to do our duty? Can he learn that you make more friends by helping feed children than by killing them?

We must act to Impeach George W. Bush and his criminal cohorts now.

It's Official: The U.S. Has Now Been In Iraq LONGER Than It Was Involved in World War II (WWII)

We passed the benchmark Tuesday night.


More Good Stuff From The Nation: Neocon Nightmares, Israel's Attempts to Liquidate the Palestinian State, and Questions Re: Brit Liquid Bomb Plot

Some important stuff here, one or more of which you should probably catch (far better than a cold!):

On the British Liquid Bomb Plot: Groundhog Day
James K. Galbraith From all official statements so far, the August 10 terror plot uncovered in Britain was the biggest thing since 9/11. But then again, perhaps it wasn't. It's not too early to ask the questions on which a final judgment must depend.

Our Plans for Iran and Syria: Neocon Dreams, American Nightmares
Eric Alterman Four wars at once? Led by this crew? Are the people who run this country, enabled by neo-con pundits, dangerously out of their minds?

Israel and the Palestinian State: A Letter from 18 Writers
Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison and other luminaries call to resist Israel's undeclared political aim: the liquidation of the Palestinian state.

And, lest we forget: Snakes on a Plane!
Richard Kim The summer's scariest blockbuster, starring Samuel L. Jackson and 500 hissing, would-be terrorist reptiles, could turn out to be the political satire of the year. Seriously.

Dan Froomkin: How the White House Tries To "Spin The Truth Away"

I've mentioned my overall appreciation for Froomkin's blog on The Washington Post as one of the strongest possible reasons to use WaPo as a news source. Nor does Froomkin disappoint today, both with talking about how Tony Snow(job) tried to spin away the truth about a "petulant" president unhappy with Iraq (see my earlier post on Bush's unhappiness - boo frickin' hoo indeed!) as well as Helen Thomas trying to get the White House to admit Iraq has fully descended into a civil war.

Go read while I blow my nose.

My Left Wing and Maryscott O'Connor

Unlike Sen. George Allen (R-Vacant), Maryscott O'Connor over at My Left Wing is not just a class act and a sharp mind, but she knows how to apologize, even if I have no clue why she would need to do so. Nor do I necessarily want to know; we all have times of explosions and implosions and gossip rarely helps.

However, what I do know is that I wish here a speedy recovery and best wishes to one of the finer, more rational blogs out there. A huge part of why MLW is so good is Maryscott herself.

Rules a Brave Federal Judge: Halt the Illegal NSA Wiretapping

Hip hip hooray. Of course, the Bushies will go after him and they'll find a court they've more fully bought to rule in their favor.

But at least there are still wise and brave judges like this one.

Here's the ACLU vs. NSA ruling in PDF format.

Today in Iraq

Re: my previous post, if there is anyone who has the right to be pissed - even more than our American soldiers who did not usually ASK to be used as a pawn in Bush's game of empire building - it is the Iraqi people. And if you question why, just look at what Today in Iraq brings you.

What Bush and his crew have done there is so far past mere incompetence as to defy the imagination.

President Bush Is Upset With Iraqis And Their Prime Minister?

The White House denies it, but there's far more evidence that Bush is pissed with Iraqis and their prime minister al Maliki than not. And to this I say, boo-frickin' hoo!

The Iraqis never asked Mr. Bush to take out their leader, Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqis never asked to be held in a military occupation.

The Iraqis never asked to have all their infrastructure destroyed so Halliburton, and Kellogg, Brown and Root (a baby spinoff of Halliburton) and Bechtel and all these other Bush friend corporations could "pretend" to rebuild the country at exhorbitant prices made all the more expensive because these American contractors DID NOT DO THE JOB we overpaid them to perform.

The Iraqis never asked for a civil war to break out because Bush was incompetent at caring for Iraq once he invaded it.

The Iraqis never asked to be imprisoned, tortured, and killed in prisons like Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.

The Iraqis never asked to die at a rate PER MONTH that exceeds the number who died in the United States on September 11th, 2001.

I only hope that one day, Mr. Bush will have to suffer even one day what the Iraqis have suffered each and every day since we invaded their country and turned it into a violent ghetto.

Discrimination? Bigotry? What's Behind The Appeals for Help For One Group Which Isn't the Group Most Greatly Affected?

I've raised the issue of double standards and discrimination many times since Bush America decided to become a non-stop warrior nation as well as in the grave situation in the Middle East. Here's (sadly) another example of it.

I don't know if you've seen them, but I've noticed a number of different TV, print, and online ads appealing for financial help for Jews in Israel hurt by the recent violence. I have zero problem with Jews in Israel getting help. My problem is that the appeal is only for one particular group out of a whole, especially when it isn't the group anywhere near as badly affected in the Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanese carnage a trois.

Let's break this down into some real numbers. According to figures from Israel, 42 civilians (not counting soldiers or those working in some official capacity) died as a result of the Hezbollah rockets fired into mostly Northern Israel. Among these 42, Jews predominate but several were Arab Israelis. The latter would be excluded from this aid request which is bad enough.

But according to less than official numbers from Lebanon - where the infrastructure crippling has made it impossible to tabulate an exact death toll - more than 1700 civilians have died. Unlike Israel, the Lebanese saw their entire infrastructure destroyed, along with hospitals, medical clinics, schools... you name it. They are also excluded from this aid request and they were far more crippled than Israel.

Israel already gets a phenomenal amount of aid, mostly from the U.S. I understand we're giving them extra money to help those hurt in Israel (with a much more paltry amount alloted to Lebanon). So why a request aimed at only one type of individual in just one of the countries hit?

Add to that an interesting reality: in Bush America, it is very difficult to donate money to an Arab- or Muslim-based organization without running the risk that you will be investigated as a "financer" of terrorism because of the rules the Bushies drew up. Not true if you give to even the most violent Zionist organizations based in Israel.

Now, I feel the people of Israel certainly deserve our help as well as our prayers. But why limit it to Jews in Israel, and why purposely exclude the group that has been hardest hit of all?

I think I know why, but it is not a good reason. In fact, it's a pretty craptastic reason.


Blair's Number Two Man Does Not "Heart" President Bush

I think the Deputy Prime Minister to top laptop Tony Blair - and the rest of the Labour Party in England - does not quite have the great affection for Bush & Company that "Cool Brittania" Tony has.

Froomkin: The Bush Bubble Alive and Well

Gee, I'm sorry to hear that Dan.

But for those who haven't read it yet, go here.

Oliver Stone's Film, "World Trade Center", And The Iraq War

Interesting take from Ruth Rosen as published by Tom Englehardt at TomDispatch

The attacks of September 11, 2001 remain both an overwhelming and under-considered horror. Tomdispatch will devote the week leading up to the fifth anniversary of 9/11 to various reconsiderations of that moment. In the meantime, the anniversary season was inaugurated early by World Trade Center, Oliver Stone's reverent blockbuster movie. Ruth Rosen went to see it recently and explains just why September 11th, which brought out so much that was positive in those who rushed to the scene to help, still brings out so much of the Bush-era worst in so many of the rest of us.

Oliver Stone, 9/11, and the Big Lie
By Ruth Rosen

    When World Trade Center ended, I left the theater tense, my muscles aching. The superb directing and acting, coupled with still hardly imaginable scenes of death and destruction, had sent painful muscle spasms up my back, evoked tears, and left me, yet again, with searing and indelible images of that hellish morning.

    I felt disoriented in the bright sunlight of a Northern Californian afternoon. As my mind regained its critical faculties, however, another kind of shock set in. I suddenly realized that Oliver Stone's movie reinforces the Big Lie -- endlessly repeated by Dick Cheney, echoed and amplified by the right-wing media -- that 9/11 was somehow linked to Iraq or supported by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

    It might surprise you that this Oliver Stone film is neither ideological, nor conspiratorial, which in my view is just as it should be. Instead, it is a portrayal of what the men who braved hell and the families who anguished over their survival experienced.

    World Trade Center gives 9/11 a distinctly human face by following two Port Authority policemen and their families. We watch the men muster their courage to help evacuate people in one of the towers; we gasp as they are buried alive; we wince as heavy slabs of cement crush their bodies; and we hold our breath as they struggle to keep each other going in the face of imminent death.

    Expert editing brings us the anguish suffered by their wives, children, and relatives. Some are in denial, others in shock. Some have faith; others are resigned to the men's deaths. They live in their own hell and we empathize with their wrenching agony.

Say Hello to...

Orwell's Grave.

Lieberman, Sanders, Ned Lamont Cheney, and Kinky Sex

OK, OK.. there really isn't any kinky sex involved in this posting but it got your attention. Right? (And I'm sure the Bush-style Republicans would surely find a way to link kinky sex to both terrorism AND how poorly Democrats can prevent you from nasties like nipple clamps, whips, leather, and edible panties, all of which I think appear in at least one of Lynne Cheney's throbbing works of fiction.)

Anyway, I'll let the razor-sharp Philip Baruth tell you this as posted on his Vermont Daily Briefing:

Clearly Dan Gerstein — a faithful Lieberman retainer suddenly made Communications Director in the purge following Big Joe’s loss to Ned Lamont — believes that the Senator’s operation spent too much time on the defensive in the run-up to the August ballot.

And it’s a fine point: having your candidate yelling “I am not George W. Bush!” at rallies would seem to verge on the defensive, even the tetchy. But how to get on the offensive?

The attempts to echo Dick Cheney have proven a double-edged sword. Yes, they allow Lieberman to argue that a vote for Ned Lamont is like offering cappucino and biscotti to Al-Qaeda, but only at the cost of openly parroting the lines of a man less than half as popular as George W. Bush.

A man now best known for starring in the popular but short-lived reality series, “Who Wants A Massive Load of Buckshot in Their Face and Heart?”

Gerstein’s answer? Find someone more popular to echo. Someone like Dick Nixon. That’s right, add the Communist specter to the terrorist threat as a sort of boffo Vegas-style alarmist two-fer.

But of course, if you have in mind some serious red-baiting, you need to find yourself a Red. And with Fidel Castro laid up, that’s easier said than done.

Where in these United states of America can Gerstein lay his hands on a nice convenient Commie?

From the Connecticut Journal Inquirer:
    “Dan Gerstein, a longtime Lieberman aide whom the senator named as his new communications director after losing the Democratic primary to Lamont last week, took aim at Lamont’s appearance Sunday on Fox News, calling it ‘a tad hypocritical’ after having attacked Lieberman for appearing on the same network.

    “But then Gerstein posed ‘a question’ for Lamont.

    “How could he expect to convince ‘moderate Democrats, Republicans, and most importantly, unaffiliated voters’ that he ‘would be anything other than a rigid partisan rubber stamp in the Senate,’ the Lieberman spokesman asked, ‘when the only proof of his independence he can show is that he is slightly to the right of socialist Bernie Sanders on fiscal policy?’”
Ah, there it is: Ned Lamont is slightly to the right of Bernie Sanders. Brilliant.

Forget that only three weeks ago, Lieberman was desperately trying to portray Lamont as a lock-step Republican. Forget that Lamont, with the exception of his stance on the Iraq War, remains a fairly centrist Democrat. For the moment, it serves Lieberman’s interest to portray Lamont as a fellow-traveler, and Bernie Sanders as the crazy-haired icon of creeping Democratic Socialism.

Make no mistake: we will see more of this, a great deal more.

Let Me Mention Marc Estrin

My partner, John, brought home a book a couple of weeks ago from one of my favorite book stores, "Black Sheep Books" in Montpelier. That book just happened to be "Insect Dreams" which, although it stands marvelously by itself, also takes to a whole different level what might have happened if Gregor Samsa, the man-turned-cockroach in Kafka's Metamorphosis, had not only lived, but also migrated to the U.S.

The author of the book is Marc Estrin, a fellow Vermont resident, an author, and an activist (find his site here). While we haven't yet finished the book (it's a book we read together at bed time or whenever we can steal a few moments), I definitely recommend it.

I also happened to catch Marc at a protest in Burlington the other day, as presented on WCAX-TV news. I definitely want to learn more about him and perhaps get the chance to talk together someday. In the meanwhile, you can also catch his blog here.

Senator Allen: His Intelligence Level and Apology Quality Roughly Matches His Bad Hairpiece/Toupee

First, is there a rule somewhere that says congress critters (Senate or House of Reprehensibles) MUST have a bad toupee or hair plugs? Because I swear, between former Reprehensible James Traficant and Bill Frist and George Allen, these folks are an embarrassment.

But it's hard to tell which facet of presidential hopeful (well, he hopes, but I don't think we hope, if you get my drift) Sen. George Allen is more offensive:

  • his fake hair
  • his racial intolerance
  • his first non-apology apology
  • his second non-apology apology
  • his third non-apology apology
  • or his fourth non-apology apology

Granted, I'm sure that Allen loyalists would actually APPLAUD the man's uncool racial intolerance and heckling of a man of Indian descent, but most of us are probably pretty creeped out about it.

Finally, let me add that, regarding Allen's last few unapologetic apologies, Mr. Allen is the LAST person who should be making fun of someone because of their hair. Unlike the Web staffer he ridiculed, Allen at least makes enough money to buy something that makes his fake hair appear less like fake hair.. but doesn't.

Meanwhile, I'll go back to appreciating the fact that while George Allen (Mr. Pro Life) loves to insist he knows better about a fertile woman should do with her body than she does, he is HAPPY to take money earned on the stock he owns in a morning-after pill "abortion" prescription drug. Yeppers.

Heartbreaking And Yet Important to Hear

New 9/11 tapes have been released and the voices of the dead and the desperate are indeed heartbreaking.

The Rachel Corrie Story Goes Local!

I saw this posted by Jack at Green Mountain Daily and I am thrilled! I have wanted to see this presentation and here it comes to my own backyard (literally):

You may remember the story of Rachel Corrie. She was the young peace activist who was killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003, killed by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes.

They wrote a play about her life, based on her writings, and it was very successful over in London, so successful that they were going to bring it over here and present it at the New York Theater Festival. The problem was that the theater was afraid of the reaction they would get, so they pulled the plug on the production.

Now, what you couldn't see in New York you can see here in Vermont. The Unadilla Theatre in Marshfield is presenting it for two weeks, starting tonight.
I will be calling for tickets tomorrow. Thank you very much, Jack!

Oh Goodie! Here's A Diversion: the Jon Benet Ramsey Case

You'd never believe there are multiple wars going on because since mid-afternoon, we get a non-stop diet of a 10-year-old unsolved murder investigation. This fellow, John Mark Karr, has simply replaced Patsy Ramsey as the primary suspect.

Deaths in U.S. v. Deaths in Iraq

This post of mine about the difference in treatment of Iraq deaths v. those in the U.S. on 9-11-01 has generated a lot of blog mentions and an incredible amount of both fan as well as hate mail. Just proves you can never tell how something will be taken.

More Repeats Than Last Night's Burritos

My apologies. Blogger kept posting the same thing over and over.

I think I've removed all the dupes but time will tell.


A Lull in the Carnage a Trois of Israel, Hezbollah, and Lebanon

Rather than handle several pieces of information separately, let me lump them all together.

First, Israel has started to withdraw some of its forces from Lebanon while the government of Lebanon is ready to begin deploying its own army troops along the Southern Lebanon border while the U.N. is trying to expedite the formation of an international peacekeeping force to help. Meanwhile, Lebanon has said it won't disarm Hezbollah while the UNIFIL head asks again for the Lebanese army to disarm Hezbollah forces along the Southern Lebanese border.

Now Israel wanted the complete disarmament of everyone in Lebanon, including all civilians. However, that would not only be hard to do (and if it were to occur in America, there would be more than hell to pay), I think it would be unwise (and remember, I am NOT pro gun).

Shimon Peres, Israel's Vice Premier (and of all the Israeli politicians over the last 30 years or so, my favorite along with the assassinated Rabin), says Israel won the war because Hezbollah was weakened. However, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defined winning as complete extermination of Hezbollah (or Hizbollah to some) which Israel certainly did NOT accomplish. In fact, until there is strong proof otherwise, I do not believe Hezbollah was significantly weakened and, in terms of Middle East coverage and among Lebanese civilians, I think Hezbollah came out on top.

Olmert promises to continue his campaign against Hezbollah while Nasrallah (head of Hezbollah) declares a "blessed victory."

Elsewhere, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck in Gaza, killing two Palestinians and wounding many others.

Tenets of Bushism #1: The Truth Must Be Avoided At ALL Cost

Yes, I'd say the truth is the first and foremost victims of a Bush presidency. And it also applies to how Mr. Bush came to be president when he should not have (and before readers from the Deep South remind me again to just get over the 2000 presidential race non-recount, let me say to them, "The Confederacy lost and ended by 1865 yet you still fly the damned flags and proclaim victory, so you should get over it").

Specifically, I'm addressing the Bush v. Gore case that came before the U.S. Supreme Court which - as a great favor to Dubya and his minions - chose to stop any attempts to determine who really won. Adam Cohen asks in The New York Times, "Has Bush v. Gore Become the Case That Must Not Be Named?"

Here we go:

At a law school Supreme Court conference that I attended last fall, there was a panel on “The Rehnquist Court.” No one mentioned Bush v. Gore, the most historic case of William Rehnquist’s time as chief justice, and during the Q. and A. no one asked about it. When I asked a prominent law professor about this strange omission, he told me he had been invited to participate in another Rehnquist retrospective, and was told in advance that Bush v. Gore would not be discussed.

The ruling that stopped the Florida recount and handed the presidency to George W. Bush is disappearing down the legal world’s version of the memory hole, the slot where, in George Orwell’s “1984,” government workers disposed of politically inconvenient records. The Supreme Court has not cited it once since it was decided, and when Justice Antonin Scalia, who loves to hold forth on court precedents, was asked about it at a forum earlier this year, he snapped, “Come on, get over it.”

...There are several problems with trying to airbrush Bush v. Gore from the law. It undermines the courts’ legitimacy when they depart sharply from the rules of precedent, and it gives support to those who have said that Bush v. Gore was not a legal decision but a raw assertion of power.

The courts should also stand by Bush v. Gore’s equal protection analysis for the simple reason that it was right (even if the remedy of stopping the recount was not). Elections that systematically make it less likely that some voters will get to cast a vote that is counted are a denial of equal protection of the law. The conservative justices may have been able to see this unfairness only when they looked at the problem from Mr. Bush’s perspective, but it is just as true when the N.A.A.C.P. and groups like it raise the objection.

There is a final reason Bush v. Gore should survive. In deciding cases, courts should be attentive not only to the Constitution and other laws, but to whether they are acting in ways that promote an overall sense of justice. The Supreme Court’s highly partisan resolution of the 2000 election was a severe blow to American democracy, and to the court’s own standing. The courts could start to undo the damage by deciding that, rather than disappearing down the memory hole, Bush v. Gore will stand for the principle that elections need to be as fair as we can possibly make them.

Is Another Recession Looming?

While Bush pretends to be working, I've been paying attention to various economic indicators which, while they don't promise a recession (or worse) is looming, certainly don't add up to the glorious fiscal picture Bush & Company say it does.

The job outlook is weak, unless you're just dying to have a minimum wage job (or three or four of them, as many do) with no benefits like health insurance. If a job does offer a retirement fund, good luck on trying to collect on it, given how freely the Bushies and their hand-picked judges have told companies they do not have to honor such agreements.

The American dollar isn't dropping QUITE as fast as it was, but it's not great either at the same time the federal government has raised interest rates pretty consistently, only taking one or two opportunities not to raise the prime rate.

The housing situation isn't good: sales of new homes as well as existing ones isn't exactly robust. Plus mortgage defaults and bankruptcies are much, much higher than previous rates.

In The "Dude, You're Gettin' A Dell...Big Laptop Battery-Induced Fire!" Department

When Michael Dell tells you his laptops are "WAAA-AAAY RED HOT and smoking!" he means it! Literally!

Say hello to the largest consumer product recall (some 4.2 million laptop-notebook-portable units) EVAH!

I wonder if the consumer recall will be outsourced to India as well. ::snortle::

Fragile Does Not Even Begin To Describe the Cease-Fire Truce Between Israel, Hezbollah, and Lebanon

[Ed. note: Take the poll on "who won" this conflict at near the top right of the sidebar. Thank you.]

I suppose it's something of a miracle the two sides - or is it more than six or eight sides, considering that we aren't just talking about Israel and Lebanon here, but also the Hezbollah, U.S., Europe, the Arab nations, the Palestinians, and the U.N - the Middle East ever saw a cease-fire-slash-truce at all after more than 30 days of bloody battle. That such a truce dangles by an incredibly delicate and dainty thread sounds almost a bit too forceful for what lies in place now.

Just as many analysts - and myself, as a total civilian - predicted, both sides (Hezbollah and Israel) have claimed victory. While I know Israel did not win and while Hizbollah really did a lot more damage than one might have expected, I'm not sure what they won either, except perhaps the hearts and minds of Lebanese civilians who came to view Hezbollah as their only life line while Israel bombed, shot, and bloodied the hell out of the nation of Lebanon.

Both the U.S. and Israel lost BIG TIME in terms of the warm and cozy feeling Lebanese civilians got for the Hezbollah guerrillas... to say anything else is just patently ridiculous. Once again, the U.S. comes out of this far more hated and distrusted than it was going in.

Does anyone reading here believe this truce will hold up even as long as 30 days? I'm not certain that I do, as fervently as I hope that it lasts.

If The Goal of the Bush Administration Is To Make American Children Scientifically Illiterate, They Are Succeeding Far Beyond Anyone's Expectations

When George Bush became governor of Texas, one of the things he did was to make the school system in the state become far more concerned with extrinsic markers than on actual education of children. Since he was handed the presidency in 2000, Mr. Bush has continued through disastrous programs like "No Child Left Behind [In Any Public School Worth Its Weight]" to make sure that education of our society's future leaders is not what the public schools do.

With this gripe in mind, let me recommend that you read The Times' "How to Make Sure Children Are Scientifically Illiterate" which tackles the Kansas battle over Evolution vs. (Anything But) Intelligent Design and those unfortunately growing percentage of Americans who find any type of knowledge a severe and critical threat to religion, as if God did not provide us with our minds and did not imply that we should feed those brains appropriately.

When 3 Thousand Die in U.S., It's a Horrific Tragedy. When It Happens in Iraq, it's Just Another Day in Paradise.

How strange double standards can be.

When nearly 3,000 people died in New York, Washington D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001, it was an unspeakable tragedy and one worth launching world wars over and committing atrocity after atrocity.

But when it happens in just one city in just one month in Iraq, it's hardly worth mentioning.

Why is that? And why do we allow it to happen? What makes American lives priceless but Iraqi deaths.. or Lebanese or Palestinians... so acceptable? And no, this question is not rhetorical.

From today's New York Times:

More Iraqi civilians were killed in July than in apparently any other month of the war, according to Iraqi Health Ministry and morgue statistics, despite a security plan begun by the new government in June.

An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed per day in July, according to figures from the Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue. At least 3,438 civilians died violently that month, a 9 percent increase over the tally in June and nearly twice as many as in January.

The Baghdad security plan started by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on June 14 was much praised by top Iraqi and American officials at the time. It relied on setting up more Iraqi-run checkpoints to stymie insurgent movement.

Those officials have since acknowledged that the plan has fallen far short of its aims, forcing the American military to add soldiers to the capital and back away from proposals for a troop drawdown by the year’s end.

The Baghdad morgue reported receiving 1,855 bodies in July, more than half of the total deaths recorded in the country. The morgue tally for July was an 18 percent increase over June.

Paul Krugman: "Hoping for Fear"

The currency most used by the Bushies and Dick Cheney isn't the $50 bill, the $100 bill, or even gold bullion. Instead, it's fear. Everytime they think you become cynical to their exploits, they pull out a new terror concern or bogeyman to beat you back into submission. This is some of the topic of Paul Krugman's column, "Hoping for Fear".

Just two days after 9/11, I learned from Congressional staffers that Republicans on Capitol Hill were already exploiting the atrocity, trying to use it to push through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. I wrote about the subject the next day, warning that "politicians who wrap themselves in the flag while relentlessly pursuing their usual partisan agenda are not true patriots."

The response from readers was furious — fury not at the politicians but at me, for suggesting that such an outrage was even possible. "How can I say that to my young son?" demanded one angry correspondent.

I wonder what he says to his son these days.

We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration's fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever.

Fecklessness: the administration has always pinched pennies when it comes to actually defending America against terrorist attacks. Now we learn that terrorism experts have known about the threat of liquid explosives for years, but that the Bush administration did nothing about that threat until now, and tried to divert funds from programs that might have helped protect us. "As the British terror plot was unfolding," reports The Associated Press, "the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology."

Cynicism: Republicans have consistently portrayed their opponents as weak on terrorism, if not actually in sympathy with the terrorists. Remember the 2002 TV ad in which Senator Max Cleland of Georgia was pictured with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? Now we have Dick Cheney suggesting that voters in the Democratic primary in Connecticut were lending aid and comfort to "Al Qaeda types." There they go again.

More fecklessness, and maybe more cynicism, too: NBC reports that there was a dispute between the British and the Americans over when to make arrests in the latest plot. Since the alleged plotters weren't ready to go — they hadn't purchased airline tickets, and some didn't even have passports yet — British officials wanted to watch and wait, hoping to gather more evidence. But according to NBC, the Americans insisted on early arrests.
Suspicions that the Bush administration might have had political motives in wanting the arrests made prematurely are fed by memories of events two years ago: the Department of Homeland Security declared a terror alert just after the Democratic National Convention, shifting the spotlight away from John Kerry — and, according to Pakistani intelligence officials, blowing the cover of a mole inside Al Qaeda.

But whether or not there was something fishy about the timing of the latest terror announcement, there's the question of whether the administration's scare tactics will work. If current polls are any indication, Republicans are on the verge of losing control of at least one house of Congress. And "on every issue other than terrorism and homeland security," says Newsweek about its latest poll, "the Dems win." Can a last-minute effort to make a big splash on terror stave off electoral disaster?

Many political analysts think it will. But even on terrorism, and even after the latest news, polls give Republicans at best a slight advantage. And Democrats are finally doing what they should have done long ago: calling foul on the administration's attempt to take partisan advantage of the terrorist threat.

It was significant both that President Bush felt obliged to defend himself against that accusation in his Saturday radio address, and that his standard defense — attacking a straw man by declaring that "there should be no disagreement about the dangers we face" — came off sounding so weak.

Above all, many Americans now understand the extent to which Mr. Bush abused the trust the nation placed in him after 9/11. Americans no longer believe that he is someone who will keep them safe, as many did even in 2004; the pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina and the disaster in Iraq have seen to that.

All Mr. Bush and his party can do at this point is demonize their opposition. And my guess is that the public won't go for it, that Americans are fed up with leadership that has nothing to hope for but fear itself.

Maureen Dowd: "Henny Penny Harridan"

MoDo tackles Hillary Clinton and her attacks on the Iraq War, the Bushies, Rumsfeld and more:

The enunciation of a clear sentence about the war in Iraq by Hillary Clinton means that there must be an election coming up.

Until now, she has been unsubtly subtle about the most urgent issue facing the country, sending signals rightward, sending signals leftward, tacking here, tacking there. Some days she seemed to be signaling whether she intended to signal.

But now, suddenly, she's a woman of passion, a model of concerned clarity. After an eon of calculated silence on most of the big moral questions of the day, there is a calculated breaking of the silence. The enigma won't play anymore. It's time for the drama.

But the drama played like "The Taming of the Shrew," with the only question being, who was the shrew?

Hillary was trying to bring Rummy to heel, and Rummy was trying to exert manly control over Hillary.

The junior senator from New York staged a drama in three acts, first sending a letter summoning the reluctant Rummy to appear before the Armed Services Committee; then hectoring him with a litany of his "numerous errors in judgment"; and finally at the end of the day, like the Queen of Hearts, delivering her climactic demand for his head.

"I just don't understand why we can't get new leadership that would give us a fighting chance to turn the situation around," Senator Clinton said after the hearing, summing up a truth acknowledged by everyone except W. and Dick Cheney, and particularly felt at the Pentagon, where the deeply unpopular defense chief has gone from self-styled matinee idol to self-destructing idle martinet.

During the hearing, Hillary unmanned Rummy, as Shakespeare would say, accusing him of incompetence, impotence and improbity.

"You did not go into Iraq with enough troops to establish law and order," she said. "You disbanded the entire Iraqi Army. Now we're trying to recreate it. You did not do enough planning for what is called phase four and rejected all the planning that had been done previously to maintain stability after the regime was overthrown. You underestimated the nature and strength of the insurgency, the sectarian violence and the spread of Iranian influence."

She pointed out that the administration succeeds only in achieving the opposite of its aims — with the number of American troops in Iraq scheduled to increase, not decrease, and the violence and instability spreading.

She cited the administration's reality disconnect on the Taliban in Afghanistan, where every new claim of success has been followed by new evidence of failure. The Taliban have been written out of the war by administration flackery, but they keep coming back like Mel Gibson's hangovers and apologies.

She tartly summed up: "Because of the administration's strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy. Given your track record, Secretary Rumsfeld, why should we believe your assurances now?"

There was a pause while Rummy summoned all the condescension he usually reserves for doltish reporters.

"My goodness," he exhaled finally, firing off a defense that could have been translated as:

"Where do I start educating you on your utterly superficial understanding of the enemy, you harridan hippy-dippy Henny Penny?"

The Pentagon rank and file have tuned out Rummy, whose only transformation so far has been to transform himself into a dangerous, deluded codger. But when the respected General Abizaid admitted that "it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war," it was clear Iraq was already in one. It opened up a river of talk across the river about what people there had long been afraid to say: that Rummy's jutting jaw is not going to cut it. There needs to be an alternative strategy to keep our kids from having to fight their way out of a sectarian conflagration.

When Hillary and Rummy square off, it is a gladiatorial contest of two masters at hauteur, self-righteousness, scriptedness, infighting and belief in their own manifest destiny.

Hillary wants to avoid Joe Lieberman's fate by arguing that how the administration went about this war has caused all the problems, not that it went to a needless war she supported. Her stratagem avoids the lie that set off all the other lies, and leaves Hillary risking a John Kerry problem, being both for the war and against it.

It's going to be a tough triangulation. Even Bill never had to squirm his way out of something as hard as this.